AFRICANITY: The Cultural Unity of Black Africa by Jacques Maquet

AFRICANITY: The Cultural Unity of Black Africa

Email this review


Africanity is Maquet's word for the cultural unity that he finds underlying the diverse societies of Africa south of the Sahara -- an interdependence not based on shared blackness. Maquet postulates that culture and race are independent variables, relying on a 1951 UNESCO declaration in which scientists stated that there was no justification for the belief that human groups differ in natural aptitudes; this view is certainly defensible on scientific grounds but it does not refute the recent research suggesting the question is not closed. The sources of Africanity are four varieties of experience common to all sub-Saharan societies -- similarity of modes of subsistence, cultural diffusion through migration and travel prompted by wars or trade, the lengthy isolation of the interior of the continent, and Africa's budding entry into the industrial outside world. Maquet then fills in this structural framework with the contents of Africanity, explaining such cultural variables as kinship, government, religion and world view. The final section discusses the possible effects of Africanity on Africa's development and the rest of the world. The book concludes with brief descriptions of a hundred African societies alphabetically listed. Maquet's theoretical contention will find an audience among anthropologists and Africa specialists, some of whom -- perhaps many of whom -- will find it a bit too tidy, a bit too slick.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1972
Publisher: Oxford