Oxford AASC:

Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Second Edition

Introduction to the Second Edition

The original Africana, published in 1999, was the first encyclopedia of Africa and her diaspora. The articles, maps, photographs, tables, and timelines were created and edited by a team of literally hundreds of authors, aware that the project we were beginning was to appear in two versions. One version, the Encarta Africana, was a CD-ROM; the other was a one-volume book. Each, we thought, was an important symbol. The CD-ROM allowed us to include not only words and still images but also moving images and sound: especially significant because some of Africa's great contributions to global civilization have been in the arts. Particularly in dance and music, it seemed fitting that the first encyclopedia of the black world could be seen and heard as well as read. But the black world is also a world of the book. One of the world's oldest master texts is the Egyptian Book of the Dead. African Americans (in the broadest sense including all those of African descent in the Americas) created a new kind of writing—the slave narrative—in order to articulate their struggle against slavery. And one of Africa's most substantial modern achievements is a body of literature in English, French, and Portuguese that has captured the imagination of the world while bringing Africans themselves together as readers.

Since the successful completion of the first versions of the encyclopedia, the Encarta Africana has continued through a series of editions, corrected and updated, and expanded with the speed that the new technology makes possible. We also created a Web site—Africana.com—that began around the core of information in the encyclopedia and has now spun off into a life of its own. The world changes, our understanding changes, we learn more. If an encyclopedia is to represent our best understanding of our world, it must be a living thing. So we are delighted that Oxford University Press has enabled us to continue Africana's evolution in the print version as well, permitting us to move from a one-volume to a multivolume encyclopedia.

In making this move, we have been able to do the three things that every encyclopedia—maker wants to do—the three things that Encarta Africana has already done: correct, update, and expand. We are grateful to all those who responded to our invitation to help us identify errors or omissions in the earlier book (or who provided corrections without being invited!). We are grateful to the many authors who have written new essays for this second edition. And we are especially grateful to the team at Oxford University Press, under the able leadership of Jewel Moulthrop, that has managed this complex process.

The first edition of Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience consisted of 3,234 entries; this new edition has an additional 1,200 entries, including new biographies, expanded coverage of the African diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean, and dozens of newly commissioned essays. More than 1,100 entries have been updated, including all the country and city entries and "At a Glance" features, biographies of living subjects, and entries such as AIDS in Africa, AIDS in the United States, Affirmative Action, Magic, Sorcery, and Witchcraft in the Americas.

Among our newly commissioned entries are African American Architects, African Oral Literature, Black Classicism in the United States, Board Games, History of Writing in Africa, Black Literature of South Africa, Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, Children's Work in Africa, Migrancy and African Literature, and many others.

Africana has been redesigned to give the work an entirely new appearance; photographs have been redistributed, replaced, and/or updated. Maps and tables have also been updated to reflect the most recent data available. Most importantly, this second edition of Africana has been transformed into a multivolume format with a comprehensive index, a topical outline of entries, new chronology, and suggestions for further reading.

We should like, finally, to thank Glenn Hutchins for generously supporting the research necessary to complete this new edition of Africana. Without his philanthropy, this work would not have been possible.

Kwame Anthony Appiah
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
August 3, 2004