Letter from the Editor

Welcome to a comprehensive, online research encyclopedia that combines high quality, peer-reviewed scholarship with opportunities to deeply engage readers that would not be available in a traditional printed reference work. Articles are based on the latest, most persuasive research in the field, and incorporate audio, visual, and video materials, as well as links to digitized archives and other primary sources.

Contributors to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History are professional historians, both independent scholars as well as faculty members at institutions around the world. They provide both a comprehensive overview of each subject, as well as a brief historiography, to give readers a clear sense of how scholarship can alter our knowledge and understanding of events over time—as seen, for instance, in the dramatic shifts in South African historiography as the country has moved from minority white rule and apartheid to democratic majority rule over the last twenty-five years.

Articles also offer a careful selection of the most influential and useful primary and secondary materials on that subject to date, so that readers gain, not only a solid understanding of a given topic, but also the ability to navigate existing research. Every article is reviewed for accuracy and usefulness by peer reviewers, as well as by a fifteen-member editorial board of distinguished African historians. Authors are able to modify and enlarge essays as new sources and methods change the way history can be written.

The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History seeks to cover the entire range and sweep of African history, from the earliest stone tool–using hominids to the most recent religious movements, or from new interpretations of the Mau Mau movement in Kenya to recent reconsideration of the Rwanda genocide and its aftermath. By giving students and scholars a dynamic, engaging, and continually expanding reference work, our aim is nothing less than to make the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History a model for encyclopedias in the digital age.

Thomas Spear
Editor in Chief