Is it possible to productively bring together two seemingly exclusive ideas: Africa and philology? This essay presents a case for working at multiple levels and numerous sites in bridging these apparently disparate realms. Indeed, there is already a tradition of philological study about and on the continent that reveal the many different trajectories of Islamic scholarship in particular. While surveying this field, which has advanced substantially in recent decades, it also suggests that there are key issues that require examination such as the question of the archive and the collection, their constitution and movement. Philology, no matter how it is conceived, rests on the availability of texts and therefore the histories of the way texts come to accumulate in certain places and are discovered or recovered at specific moments is part of the project of the philological encounter. We thus have to be mindful of the histories and practices before, in, and after the practice of deep, close reading.
African History seeks to publish scholarly writing on the history of Africa. It welcomes submissions on the history of any part of the continent and its islands. Works could range from the earliest epochs through to the recent past. Particularly welcome are studies that bring to light new archival materials, offer new interpretations of established sources or arguments, and that are interdisciplinary in method but historically-grounded.
We are keen to have the publications in this series widely available on the African continent and therefore pursue co-publishing arrangements with local publishers.