African Historiography, Vernacular Epistemology, and the Invention of An Archive in Toyin Falola’s Scholarship
In the transformations of African historiography in the last four decades, Toyin Falola has been an active participant as well as an inspiration for other scholars. Falola’s place within African historiography is unique due to variations of thematic focus, innovative methodological approaches, and the scope and scale of analysis. Considering the vast scope and scale of Falola’s oeuvre, this stream invites scholars to reflect upon three broad themes: African historiography, Vernacular epistemology, and the archive.
Falola’s scholarship is characterized by multiple modes of historical investigation, which offers complexities to the conventional models of “Afrocentric” histories. So we expect panelists to reflect upon at least two key aspects of Falola’s scholarship. Firstly, in what ways, Falola’s work appropriates, problematizes, and contests the non-African philosophies of history? Secondly, how the multiplicities of Africa’s past, as represented in Falola’s work, constitute a discursive formation toward non-essentialist reading of African history? The second key focus of this stream is history in the vernacular as Toyin Falola’s craftsmanship in this terrain remains unparalleled. We hope scholars focusing on this theme would be able to closely engage with Falola’s work as an exercise in intellectual history. We invite scholars to think through Falola’s methods as well as his interpretations of vernacular cultural formations in Africa to explore the semantic wealth of the term vernacular, and further extrapolate its significance in relation to emerging strands in African historiography. The third focus of this stream is the archive. Falola’s innovative ways of interpreting African cultural forms and ritual practices have led to the invention of a new archive unraveling the past. Within the scope of this thematic focus, we invite scholars to reflect upon Falola’s scholarship on the Yoruba, history of Nigeria, and African modernity. Furthermore, to engage closely with Falola’s art of inventing the archive, we expect scholars to think comparatively on historical methodology so that Toyin Falola’s place within the discipline of history can be evaluated from a global perspective.