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Placing the Military in African History: A Reflection

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While discussions of the military are notably absent in academic African History, it doesn’t mean that the subject is absent from the history left by the Africans. Sources that have been used for generations contain extensive discussions of the organization, arming, training, and utilization of military forces in Africa by Africans, but these aspects of the sources are largely ignored or interpreted within the frame of other violent activity, such as slave raiding. However, simply by their existence, these sources offer future generations the opportunity to expand and finally tell the story of formal military activity in Africa. This in turn will allow for the creation of a more complete record of African political, social, and even state-building activity before the advent of European colonization.

Affiliations: 1: Boston University,


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1. Adams John. 1822. Remarks on the Country extending from Cape Palmas to the River Congo . London: Frank Cass.
2. Akinjogbin I.A. 1966. “"Archibald Dalzel, Slave Trader and Historian of Dahomey",” Journal of African History Vol 7, 6778.
3. Dalzel Archibald. 1793. The History of Dahomey, an Inland Kingdom of Africa . London, Spillsbury and Son.
4. de Cadornega António de Oliveira,. 1942. História Geral das Guerras Angolanas (1680–1) ed. da Cunha Mateus, and Delgado Jose. Vol 3 vols, Lisbon: Agência-Geral das Colónias.
5. Parés Luis Nicolau. 2013. “"Cartas do Daomé”" Afro-Ásia Vol 47, 295395.
6. Thornton John. 1999. Warfare in Atlantic Africa, 1500–1800 . London: Routledge.

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