'Black Athena' and Africa's contribution to global cultural history

Title'Black Athena' and Africa's contribution to global cultural history
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsW.M.J. van Binsbergen
Secondary TitleQuest: An African Journal of Philosophy
Pagination100 - 137
Date Published1996///
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, Antiquity, cultural history, Greece, history, identity, politics

Martin Bernal's 'Black Athena' has evoked three kinds of reaction: scholarly evaluation of the historical evidence for Bernal's claims, both of Ancient Europe's indebtedness to West Asia and Northeast Africa, and of the construction in recent centuries of the Greek miracle as a Eurocentric, racialist myth; appropriation of the Bernal thesis by African-American and African intellectuals in the process of identity construction and in the politics of global knowledge production as a counterforce to Eurocentrism and scholarly racism; and critical scholarly extrapolation of the Bernal thesis with regard to African material beyond ancient Egypt. Arguing that origin is not to be equated with subsequent local transformation and performance in maturity, the present author posits that a different mode of thinking about cultural dynamics and interdependence is required. Two case studies tracing the geographical distribution and probable diffusion of geomantic divination and mancala board games since the 16th century, suggest that it is a typical pattern of African cultural history to see active early participation in global cultural flows, followed by subsequent 'cultural involution' and the loss of virtually all trace of an earlier intercontinental exchange. The unit of analysis is civilizations; 'Africa', the continent, is not a viable unit of analysis in this connection. Notes, ref., sum. in French (p. 100)

IR handle/ Full text URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1887/9110
Citation Key1524