African Urban History: Past and Present Perspective

  • Laurent Fourchard Centre d’Etudes d’Afrique Noire (CEAN), University of Bordeaux IV, France


History of cities in Africa is a recent field of research which interrogates – in the last two decades – the ways in which Africans shape the patterns of urbanisation and how urbanisation influences African social and cultural practices. The development of numerous case studies testifies to this new interest in African cities. Focusing on the West African region, the article explores the extent to which political and social history has benefited from the emergence of this new subfield of research and concludes that a substantial part of the extant literature is still based on the traditional approach. Consequently a West African urban history is yet to emerge despite the existence of ancient traditions of urban settlement in this area and the uniqueness of that phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa.

Lagos Historical Review, vol. 5 (2005), 1-21

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eISSN: 1596-5031