Whats with all the racism geared twords African history?

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,596
Portugal
#51
THANK YOU. Very good point.

A good example is the topic of slavery, the most controversial and distorted part of African history. Left-leaning people who subscribe to the "noble savage" myth, portray the Atlantic Slave trade as if Europeans were just capturing Africans by millions with nets, forgetting that it was simply not possible. It is complete non-sense to believe that Europeans would have been able to capture 12 million slaves without the cooperation of certain African states and by just slave raiding.

The reality is that slave raids by Europeans were rare, and that the few attempts at slave raids were usually failures(read "Warfare in Atlantic Africa" by John Thornton, if you want to read more about the subject). Instead, Europeans had deals with certain African entities who lived on the Atlantic Coast(Dahomey, Asanteman, etc...), where they would trade slaves in exchange of firearms and other goods.

Portraying Africans as victims of the Atlantic slave trade, is, in a certain way, promoting the noble savage myth, because it creates a "reluctance to talk about African empires or trade", as you said, as discussing these two things completely destroy the idea that Africans were just the poor victims of European raiders, rather than businessmen who saw an opportunity in raiding other people and selling slaves to the Europeans in the exchange of goods.
Apart from people that don’t know anything about the subject no one can say that Africans weren’t involved in the African-Atlantic slave trade since almost from the beginning. In the 15th century, quite soon the Portuguese realized that it was much better to deal with local powers than just to hunt the slaves. And this doesn’t have anything to do with left-wing or right-wing people, it has to do with people ignorant about the subject or knowing something about the subject.

On the other side, the fact that Africans took an active part on the slave trade doesn’t mean that some millions of African weren’t victims of slavery and exported, either to America, to Europe or to Asia.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,808
#52
As the Soviet tank general supposedly said: "Ar some point quantity become a quality in itself."

African slavery on the basis of pre-existing supply and demand was one thing. Nothing to like about it and certainly not humanitarian in any way. There was something there for the Europeans to tap into.

Yet that doesn't remove the problem that the Europeans opening up the New World, and looking for labour to turbo-exploit all the resources suddenly available, kicked slave-taking in African into overdrive, and fast. Suddenly Africa was required to supply the slave labour for the exploitation of a couple of new continents, with the Europeans willing and able to invest in the process.

It was a total game-changer. Africa was inducted in a new European-led global economic system, and what was demanded from Africa in that was slave labour. There's just no way African slaving would have ended up looking like it did, on the scale it did, without this new demand driving it.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,596
Portugal
#53
As the Soviet tank general supposedly said: "Ar some point quantity become a quality in itself."

African slavery on the basis of pre-existing supply and demand was one thing. Nothing to like about it and certainly not humanitarian in any way. There was something there for the Europeans to tap into.

Yet that doesn't remove the problem that the Europeans opening up the New World, and looking for labour to turbo-exploit all the resources suddenly available, kicked slave-taking in African into overdrive, and fast. Suddenly Africa was required to supply the slave labour for the exploitation of a couple of new continents, with the Europeans willing and able to invest in the process.

It was a total game-changer. Africa was inducted in a new European-led global economic system, and what was demanded from Africa in that was slave labour. There's just no way African slaving would have ended up looking like it did, on the scale it did, without this new demand driving it.
I agree with you, but sometimes seems often forgotten, even in history forums like ours here, that the gathering and hunting of slaves or its commerce with local potentates, in Africa, by the Europeans, pre-dates the discovery of America for more than half a century. Those slaves hunted/bough in Africa were than sold in European markets in Portugal and then, some, re-exported to other European markets. All his before the discovery of America by Columbus and the idea that those African slaves could be useful in America.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,808
#54
That's still where volume made a difference. And geography.

There's also things to say for the difference in conditions between slaves. Sugar plantations in the Caribbean were particularly deadly, requiring constant infusions of new labour just to maintain operations.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,596
Portugal
#55
That's still where volume made a difference. And geography.
True. I was only pointing that the structures already existed in Africa when the “Boom” to America begun.

African history is most prominent in African studies, but African studies itself is much more than history and for more attention it would be necessary to offer African history courses more frequently within history majors, courses created by historians and not regional scholars. The same problem, of course, is true for other regions, too, but in my experience, Africa receives by far the least attention. What I forget to mention was that when talking about Africa, I mean primarily sub-saharan and pre-colonial Africa, because colonial and Islamic history are much more prominent. However, I just checked data on offers of African studies and African history courses and I have to admit that things have changed in the last 10 years, there seems to be more research and more teaching.
Well, African History masters and doctoral thesis are also quite common in Portugal, probably much more than about Asian History, but I think that you are quite right when you say that this studies generally don’t contemplate much pre-colonial Africa.
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,866
Lisbon, Portugal
#56
this happens on the site all the time. There was a threat about the Asante empire and it's history, and one of the first responses was "this doesn't count as an african civilization because it's post contact and doesn't show the true innate ability of Africans.
Someone really wrote that? That's shocking, but not surprising...
 
Jan 2019
22
Norway
#57
Apart from people that don’t know anything about the subject no one can say that Africans weren’t involved in the African-Atlantic slave trade since almost from the beginning. In the 15th century, quite soon the Portuguese realized that it was much better to deal with local powers than just to hunt the slaves. And this doesn’t have anything to do with left-wing or right-wing people, it has to do with people ignorant about the subject or knowing something about the subject.

On the other side, the fact that Africans took an active part on the slave trade doesn’t mean that some millions of African weren’t victims of slavery and exported, either to America, to Europe or to Asia.
Politics influenced a lot the way the Atlantic Slave trade is portrayed, and movies like "Roots" promoted the notion that Africans were just poor victims of slave raids.

And it's not just ignorant people, certain scholars promote the myth too. For example, when Henry Louis Gates released his series "Wonders of the African world", certain people were shocked because of his realistic portrayal of the slave trade as an enterprise between Atlantic kingdoms and Europe. They accused him of "rewriting of the history of the slave trade" and "putting the blame on the victim". Two Afro-centrist scholar who wrote articles to critique Gates were Molefi Asante Kete and Ali Mazrui. Molefi went as far as saying that Gates was "defending the European’s gross violation of African humanity", and then tried to strip away Africans from their agency by making the fallacious argument that "the Europeans used 'overpowering force' to make Africans assists them in their agenda"(lol). Keep in mind that Molefi Asante Kete is very knowledgeable of African history, as he wrote books about it, but can't accept the responsibility of Africans in the Atlantic Slave trade because of his ideology and political ideas, and instead will make mental gymnastics to claim that Africans were the victims of "overpowering force" that controlled them so that they would trade captives for muskets and cowries
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,596
Portugal
#58
Politics influenced a lot the way the Atlantic Slave trade is portrayed, and movies like "Roots" promoted the notion that Africans were just poor victims of slave raids.

And it's not just ignorant people, certain scholars promote the myth too. For example, when Henry Louis Gates released his series "Wonders of the African world", certain people were shocked because of his realistic portrayal of the slave trade as an enterprise between Atlantic kingdoms and Europe. They accused him of "rewriting of the history of the slave trade" and "putting the blame on the victim". Two Afro-centrist scholar who wrote articles to critique Gates were Molefi Asante Kete and Ali Mazrui. Molefi went as far as saying that Gates was "defending the European’s gross violation of African humanity", and then tried to strip away Africans from their agency by making the fallacious argument that "the Europeans used 'overpowering force' to make Africans assists them in their agenda"(lol). Keep in mind that Molefi Asante Kete is very knowledgeable of African history, as he wrote books about it, but can't accept the responsibility of Africans in the Atlantic Slave trade because of his ideology and political ideas, and instead will make mental gymnastics to claim that Africans were the victims of "overpowering force" that controlled them so that they would trade captives for muskets and cowries
Well to begin the Africans that were traded were in fact victims of the slave trade.

It is good to keep this in mind.

And so were the societies which they belonged.

As for those “Afrocentrists” that you mentioned… well I don’t them, never read them, but the epithet that you gave to them unfortunately shouldn’t be read etymologically, and it doesn’t mean a view of history centred in Africa. Because a view of History centred in Africa is needed, with an African point of view, and African perspective. The existence of different approaches, different perspectives, and different points of view turns the history richer. The issue is that label “Afrocentrist” today means something like “alternative efabulated history”.

By the way, for a Norwegian you seem pretty well informed of the USA cultural discussions. Congratulations!
 
May 2018
81
On earth.
#59
Someone really wrote that? That's shocking, but not surprising...
indeed, some people don't seem to understand that history isn't some competition. Also, he was wrong to begin with anyway lmao

Hence, it requires an massive amount of dedication and work to dare doing so. And then there are also source issues, language issues and more.
Language issues are a major thing. The fact that we've lost many languages to time (Meroitic, I'm looking at you bud), and the fact that we have yet to get major projects in translatating documents that we still can (Timbuktu manuscripts, I'm looking at you bud), prevents us from acquiring SO much knowledge...

Could you point out the post and the thread please?
I can't remember the name of the thread. It was about the Asante, and contained a video from Epimetheus.

I don't think this exists much. Maybe this exists in a few countries and not most others, but I haven't encountered this kind of characterization often.
No, it certainly exists. I've seen many left-leaning people who seem to fall into the trap of viewing black africans as perpetual victims, even people I have general respect for. One youtuber (who I respect alot) made a video about Ancient Sudan, and I was a bit dismayed to see how he insisted on framing the Egyptian / Nubian relationship as simply one of an imperial power colonizing the black africans to the south, despite the dynamic being much more complex than that in reality. These were two comparable powers, with Sudan in many instances being the superior power in my eyes, and yet their history was lowered down to "Egypt slowly colonizing black people".
 

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