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.

Citizenship, Belonging, and Political Community in Africa
Dialogues between Past and Present
Africa, it is often said, is suffering from a crisis of citizenship. At the heart of the contemporary debates this apparent crisis has provoked lie dynamic relations between the present and the past, between political theory and political practice, and between legal categories and lived experience.

Jihād in West Africa during the Age of Revolutions
In Jihād in West Africa during the Age of Revolutions, a preeminent historian of Africa argues that scholars of the Americas and the Atlantic world have not given Africa its due consideration as part of either the Atlantic world or the age of revolutions.

Athens and Jerusalem
For more than two thousand years, philosophers and theologians have wrestled with the irreconcilable opposition between Greek rationality (Athens) and biblical revelation (Jerusalem).

African Miracle, African Mirage
Transnational Politics and the Paradox of Modernization in Ivory Coast
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Ivory Coast was touted as an African miracle, a poster child for modernization and the ways that Western aid and multinational corporations would develop the continent.

South Sudan
A New History for a New Nation
Africa’s newest nation has a long history. Often considered remote and isolated from the rest of Africa, and usually associated with the violence of slavery and civil war, South Sudan has been an arena for a complex mixing of peoples, languages, and beliefs.