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John Henrik Clarke and the power of Africana history: A historiographical examination of the thought and work of a Pan Afrikan nationalist historian

Ahati N. N Toure, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Earl E. Thorpe in his examination of Afrikan historians of the nineteenth through the mid twentieth centuries defined the historiographical problem with respect to Afrikan history as one of the neglect of the study of Afrikan people in the United States (and worldwide). This was, he argued, due to a Euro-American elitism that ignored those members of the human family who did not belong to the European group. The situation has since that time been expanded to a recognition of the paucity of critical examinations of some of the major students of Afrikan history whose influence has extended to Afrikan cultural, political, and intellectual movement in the United States and in the world and, with particular respect to historical research, has been profound. ^ This research inquiry conceptually and philosophically explores John Henrik Clarke's development of Afrikan world history. Clarke (1915-1998) was one of the founding influences and architects of Africana Studies as it developed in the late 1960s and the early 1970s in the United States. He was also one of the foremost theorists of Afrikan liberation and the uses of Afrikan history as a foundation and grounding for liberation. The study examines Clarke's intellectual influences, his approach to the teaching of Afrikan world history, his notions regarding Afrikan agency and Afrikan humanity, his explorations of themes of Pan Afrikanism and national sovereignty, and his ideas concerning the relevance of Afrikan culture in historical perspective. This examination is situated within the context of important debates within Afrikan culture and intellectualism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States. In doing so, the study frames this examination within the scope of three central issues: the indigenization of Afrikan academic intellectualism, the problem of assimiliationist historiography of the Afrikan experience, and the role of history in the Afrikan struggle against oppression in the United States.^

Subject Area

Biography|History, Black|History, African|History, United States

Recommended Citation

Toure, Ahati N. N, "John Henrik Clarke and the power of Africana history: A historiographical examination of the thought and work of a Pan Afrikan nationalist historian" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3251357.