Rethinking Africa's transcontinental continuities in pre- and protohistory

International conference at the African Studies Centre, Leiden, 12-13 April 2012. Over the last decades, studies of modern Africa have driven home the fact that one cannot understand current African conditions unless from a transcontinental, global perspective - whether it comes to capital and demographic flows, development, formal education, statal political organization or the dynamics of world religions. This makes it all the more pressing to investigate the transcontinental continuities involving Sub-Saharan Africa in pre- and protohistoric times. To what extent is it true (as is widely assumed) that the roots of contemporary African predicaments, and their possible solutions, lie primarily in the recent conditions and developments of the 19th-21st centuries? Or, alternatively, to what extent can we discern transcontinental relations and dynamics of a much longer time span, shaping and reshaping African cultures, polities, economies and religions in close relation with the other continents? And, lest we make the mistake of attributing self-evidence and global applicability to the dominant (but rapidly declining), potentially hegemonic North Atlantic perspective: what instruments do we need to develop in the theoretical, methodological and epistemological fields in order to avoid the blinkers of regional self-interest and ethnocentricity, and to move effectively - with an ever-increasing and ever more vocal African participation - towards valid, reliable and relevant global knowledge about Africa?Black Athena Comes of Age