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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Centering Medieval Africa: Guidelines and Resources for Non-Specialist Educators


In this article I argue for the importance of centering medieval African in both secondary and post- secondary settings and offer some concrete resources and guidelines for doing so, especially for non- specialists. In my teaching context––high school students in the United States between ages 15 and 17––many state standards emphasize African history during and after European colonialism. Overlooking Africa’s medieval past maintains colonial historical narratives that depict Africa as a region without history. Instead, by choosing discrete sources and cultures to teach, maximizing the global aspect of medieval African trade and cultural networks, and adapting these approaches for their specific classroom needs, educators can emphasize a story of African history that appropriately situates African societies as part of the medieval world’s constellation of cultural and power centers.

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