Oxford AASC: About Dictionary of African Biography

Dictionary of African Biography

Edited by Emmanuel Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

This groundbreaking work documents a wide variety of African lives from throughout human history.

In the spirit of The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, American National Biography, and African American National Biography--all three published by Oxford University Press-- Dictionary of African Biography is a major biographical dictionary covering the lives and legacies of notable African men and women from all eras and walks of life. This groundbreaking resource tells the full story of the African continent through the lives of its people.

The rich history of the African people has been unduly neglected in the scholarly literature, and reliable reference material is in short supply. This trend has begun to change, however, and in recent years many new historical discoveries have been made. Much of this research is designed as a corrective to the long tradition of inadequate treatment by scholars. Although scholarship on Africa is flourishing, very little of this research has yet filtered down into accessible reference works; well designed reference material is essential to promote further scholarly inquiry, learning, and education, and to satisfy increasing interest among nonspecialist audiences.

Although there have been some isolated instances of successful biography of Africans, there is no single resource that provides comprehensive coverage. Older reference works focus unevenly on the colonial period, European adventurers, and Egyptian dynasties. There is very little attention given to the full range of African lives, and rarely is the continent treated as a whole. As a result our picture of Africa's history and its people is incomplete. A comprehensive biographical dictionary will greatly increase our understanding of the African continent and have a transformative effect on education and research.

As the most wide-reaching reference project on Africa to date, DAB will be a means of codifying the explosion of new research. Entries will be written by contributing scholars from African studies departments the world over. Each entry has been reviewed by the editorial board to ensure only reliable, high-quality material is published.

DAB contains nearly 2 million words in nearly 2,100 entries, each with bibliography, ranging from 750 to 2,000 words.

Emmanuel Akyeampong is a Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.