James de Vere Allen was Curator of the Lamu Museum.

Swahili Origins

Swahili Culture and The Shungwaya Phenomenon

By James de Vere Allen

Kiswahili has become the lingua franca of eastern Africa. Yet there can be few historic peoples whose identity is as elusive as that of the Swahili. Some have described themselves as Arabs, as Persians or even, in one place, as Portuguese. It is doubtful whether, even today, most of the people about whom this book is written would unhesitatingly and in all contexts accept the name Swahili. This book was central to the thought and lifework of the late James de Vere Allen.


Ken Saro-Wiwa
A penetrating, accessible portrait of the activist whose execution galvanized the world.


Nation on Board
Becoming Nigerian at Sea
Schler’s study of Nigerian seamen during Nigeria’s transition to independence provides a fresh perspective on the meaning of decolonization for ordinary Africans.


Culture and Money in the Nineteenth Century
Abstracting Economics
Since the 1980s, scholars have made the case for examining nineteenth-century culture — particularly literary output — through the lens of economics.


Veteran Narratives and the Collective Memory of the Vietnam War
In the decades since the Vietnam War, veteran memoirs have influenced Americans’ understanding of the conflict. Yet few historians or literary scholars have scrutinized how the genre has shaped the nation’s collective memory of the war and its aftermath.


Tales of the Metric System
A Novel
Imraan Coovadia takes his homeland’s transition from imperial to metric measurements as his catalyst, holding South Africa up to the light and examining it from multiple perspectives, his sere, direct sentences lighting a fire as he parses South Africa across the decades, from 1970 into the present.