Anthropology in Africa: what future for the historian?
The relationship between anthropology and history has been differentiated by the notion of change. Also, the history of anthropology lends itself to specific people as its object of study- people without history. Its construction as a discipline was imbued from the start with historically - determined white racism. This racism capitalized on the fact that Africa was little known as a historical entity and so the continent was consigned into the realm of a historical anthropology. For long, this form of colonial anthropology has been dominant. One of the main objectives of anthropology in Africa, as distinct from African anthropology, has been to rethink the role of the discipline in Africa and for Africans. A new field of study called historical anthropology has developedfrom this endeavour. This paper raises the central question of whether anthropology and history in Africa have resolved their contradictions in relation to disciplinary peculiarities and methodology. It argues that the notion of change and that of historical explanation define and refine the historians' approach and differentiates historians from anthropologists. It posits that historical anthropology as constructed in some western academies fails to resolve the tension emanating from the differences between the two disciplines. This is in so far as the notion of change is used and also the advantage the historian employs in the methodological approach of historical explanation. It is concluded that the feasibility of a historical anthropology is only tenable if the contradictions between the two disciplines are negotiated and resolved. Whatever vested interests African anthropologists might have in their discipline, after 25 years of hibernation they have been overtaken by events both in Africa and in the North. The deconstruction of anthropology has more or less been done for them by the Northerners and naturally from their point of view.