Africa in and of the world

Archaeological perspectives on globalization in the longue durée

Authored by: Paul J. Lane

The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Globalization

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415841306
eBook ISBN: 9781315449005
Adobe ISBN:


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Knowing where to begin with Africa, as a continent, an idea, a well-spring of identity, or as lived reality, can often present particular challenges, although maybe rather different ones, for both external observers and those who lay claim to it as their ancestral home (whether they now live there, or not). This is certainly true when attempting to link ‘Africa’ and ‘globalization’. Conventional wisdom, and probably the majority of popular opinion in the West, most likely would suggest that the continent has only relatively recently, say since 1945 or thereabouts, been touched by the forces of globalization, and that overall neither Africans nor their continent have been especially well served as a result (see essays, for instance, in Shizha and Diallo 2015). There might be some acknowledgement that European colonial powers still held sway, at least in name if nothing else, over the greater part of the continent in 1945 and in some areas had done so for several centuries. But prior to the end of Empire that the conclusion of World War II presaged, convention and popular opinion in the West, even in the second decade of the twenty-first century, are still quite likely to imagine that the tasks of the colonizing powers prior to the outbreak of war had been opening up the continent for commerce and, although perhaps out of political correctness no longer articulated as bluntly, holding savagery at bay.

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