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African Culture and Personality: A Comment on James E. Lassiter

by D. A. Masolo


The last two decades of the nineteen hundreds witnessed a pleasing upsurge in African scholarship, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. This upsurge signaled a significant shift in African studies that saw African scholars take leading discursive roles. It also shifted the nature and direction of African studies as African and Africanist scholars expanded the discursive scope through interactions across disciplines. This development was enabled by a critical dialectic whose moments are at times fair, congenial and complementary, but at other times also not quite so fair, congenial or complementary. As often occurs in academic endeavors, there have been both good and bad products, as well as good and bad criticisms. James E. Lassiter’s essay, “African Culture and Personality: Bad Social Science, Effective Social Activism, or a Call to Reinvent Ethnology?“, is an example of very bad criticism of some aspects of recent African scholarship.

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