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Introduction [zu Themenschwerpunkt: Heinrich Barth On Africa. Exploring The Explorer] article

Christoph Marx, Stephanie Zehnle

Globalgeschichte / Global History, Volume 1 (2023), Issue 1, Page 153 - 158

INTRODUCTION TO THEMATIC SECTION: HEINRICH BARTH ON AFRICA. EXPLORING THE EXPLORER

Unlike many other European ‘explorers’ of Africa, the German scholar Heinrich Barth, who undertook a major expedition through the Sahara and Sahel regions from 1849 and 1855, remained critical of colonial endeavours and showed a high respect for Islamic cultural traditions. Moreover, he pursued a multidisciplinary approach to Africa’s past and present to which scholarship has done little justice so far. The introduction to a thematic section on Barth provides a brief overview of his life and work and lays out the themes that are explored in the following essays.


What Makes an African State? Barth’s Inter-Cultural Approaches article

Stephanie Zehnle

Globalgeschichte / Global History, Volume 1 (2023), Issue 1, Page 197 - 216

WHAT MAKES AN AFRICAN STATE? BARTH’S INTER-CULTURAL APPROACHES

Aside from conducting geographical research on Africa, Heinrich Barth was sent out by the British Government to convince African rulers to sign commercial treaties with the British Crown. In his role as a political representative or diplomat, he actively approached African governments, courts and palaces. The article analyses Barth’s ideas concerning African and non-African statehood with regard to his German background, his scholarship and the perspectives held by his African informants. In addition, it analyses the entanglements of concepts referring to proper names of states (Songhay, Sokoto, Bornu) as well as to categories of states (such as kingdom, empire, city state or nation) in Barth’s work and legacy. The findings enhance our understanding of Barth’s role among the European ‘explorers’ and the inter-cultural concepts they developed with regard to Africa.

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