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Pan Africanism: A Brief Intellectual History


Correspondence: Center for African Studies, Stanford University, USA. Email:


In this article, I will historicize the socio-political and cultural emergence of Pan Africanism as an ideology. In doing so, one is enabled to appreciate its continued relevance and significance as well as its limitations and imposed misrecognition, morass misapplications, and muddled ambiguities within history. Historicizing Pan Africanism as a discourse frees it from an essentialist rendered definition and enables a new understanding in which Pan Africanism is to be understood as a performative-operative discourse. Being performative means that it ceases to be a close-minded rigid ideology proscribed by racial consciousness; it means assuming a new pose of repudiation that is dependent on contemporary socio-cultural tissues of historical experiences. But our concept is not just performative, it is also discursive because it generates a new sense of meaning for our contemporary understanding of Africanity.