Emergence of a continent from ‘racial’ dismemberment: anthropology’s responsibility toward Africa

Northern Africa is often projected as that part of Africa which is not black and/or not sub-Saharan, but this is in many ways a crude oversimplification. In reality there is no sharp geographical or biological division between northern Africa and various neighbouring regions, whether inside or outside the African continent. The fact that so few studies on northern Africa have been published within the context of Africa per se is largely the result of the dismemberment of Africa at the Sahara by scholarly establishments with extra-African agendas. A long-standing suffusion of scientific racialism has also contributed to the dismemberment. The present author describes how scholars have attempted to justify Africa’s dismemberment at the Sahara on the basis of biological anthropology, or through odd uses of the culture area construct, focusing in particular on the culture-area schemes advanced by Hermann Baumann, George Murdock and Melville J. Herskovits, and illustrates how this dismemberment continues to affect African studies. Bibliogr.

Title:Emergence of a continent from ‘racial’ dismemberment: anthropology’s responsibility toward Africa
Author: Goodwin, Stefan
Year:1999
Periodical: African Anthropology (ISSN 1024-0969)
Volume:6
Issue:1
Period:March
Pages:4-31
Language:English
Geographic terms: Africa
Northern Africa
External link:https://www.ajol.info/index.php/aa/article/view/23077
Abstract:Northern Africa is often projected as that part of Africa which is not black and/or not sub-Saharan, but this is in many ways a crude oversimplification. In reality there is no sharp geographical or biological division between northern Africa and various neighbouring regions, whether inside or outside the African continent. The fact that so few studies on northern Africa have been published within the context of Africa per se is largely the result of the dismemberment of Africa at the Sahara by scholarly establishments with extra-African agendas. A long-standing suffusion of scientific racialism has also contributed to the dismemberment. The present author describes how scholars have attempted to justify Africa’s dismemberment at the Sahara on the basis of biological anthropology, or through odd uses of the culture area construct, focusing in particular on the culture-area schemes advanced by Hermann Baumann, George Murdock and Melville J. Herskovits, and illustrates how this dismemberment continues to affect African studies. Bibliogr.