29 November 2018
ASA (African Studies Association) - Panel: Teaching pre-1800 African History.
Local African historiography has already emerged as a field of research also in Islamic Studies. This passage is, anyway, far from being without culprits, mainly when it becomes the topic of a syllabus.
Teaching History and Institutions of Islam in the framework of a African History degree program at the University of Bologna, Michele Petrone choses to focus on Islamic historiography and the representation of the past and the construction of Islamic Identity. From this point of view the Kitāb farā’id al-ǧamma fī tā’rīḫ banū Diggo wa Ǧimma of Abbā Ǧobir Abba Dula, from the royal family of Jimma, south western Ethiopia. This chronicle is written in Arabic and it reconstructs the history of the Oromo and of the author’s clan starting from oral sources. This approach to Islamic historiography allows for a deeper discussion of the expansion of models of Arabic literature to non-Arabic areas. In the Ethiopian context this has to be read also from an Africanistic perspective, taking into account the different preparation of students in the field.