A look back: Jan Vansina’s legacy honored at first annual Jan Vansina Lecture events
Friends, colleagues, and students of the late Jan Vansina gathered September 21-22 to honor the legacy of one of the world’s foremost historians of Africa.
A pioneering figure in the study of Africa, Vansina is considered one of the founders of African history in the 1950s and 1960s. Vansina’s insistence that it was possible to study African history in the era prior to European contact, and his development of rigorous historical methods for doing so, played a major role in countering the then prevalent idea that cultures without texts had no history.
When Vansina passed away in the spring of 2017, efforts were quickly underway to honor and celebrate his contributions to the field. Following months of planning, the UW-Madison African Studies Program and Department of History jointly hosted a robust, two-day event featuring scholars influenced by Vansina’s work. The weekend included the opening of a Memorial Library Jan Vansina exhibit and the first annual Jan Vansina Lecture on Friday, followed by a Saturday symposium. Learn more about the weekend’s events and how you can contribute to the Jan Vansina Fund by visiting the Jan Vansina Memorial website.
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