Lefkowitz Mary - Not Out Of Africa

Author : Lefkowitz Mary
Title : Not Out Of Africa How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History
Year : 1997

Link download : Lefkowitz_Mary_-_Not_Out_Of_Africa.zip

PREFACE. In the fall of 1991 I was asked to write a review-article about Martin Bernal's Black Athena. and its relation to the Afrocentrist movement. I The assignment literally changed my life. Once I began to work on the article I realized that . here was a subject which needed all the attention, and more, that I could give to it. Although I had been completely unaware of it, there was in existence a whole literature that denied that the ancient Greeks were the inventors of democracy, philosophy, and science. There were books in circulation that claimed that Socrates and Cleopatra· were of African descent, and that Greek philosophy had actually been stolen from Egypt. Not only were these books being read and widely distributed; some of these ideas were being taught in schools and even in universities. I soon discovered that one of the universities where students were being taught these strange stories about ancient Greece was my own alma mater, Wellesley College. My article in the New Republic soon propelled me into the center of a bitter controversy.2 For many years a course had been offered in Wellesley's Africana Studies department, called "Africans in Antiquity." I had always thought that the . course was about historical Africa. But now as a result of my research, I realized instead that the ancient "Africans" in its subject matter were such figures as Socrates and Cleopatra, and that among the "facts" of "African" ancient history were the same bogus claims about Greek philosophy that I had previously uncovered. Because I had discussed wht these ideas were wrong, I found myself fighting on the front lines of one of the most hotly contested theaters in the Culture Wars, both at home and on a national level. 3 At :first I was amazed that what I wrote had provoked hostility far beyond the range of ordinary scholarly disagreement. I was accused of being inspired by racist motives and later of being the leader of a Jewish "onslaught."4 An influential Afrocentrist writer, Professor Molefi Kete Asante of Temple University, dismissed my whole discussion as an expression of\Vhite prejudice: "Lefkowitz and those who share her views are not intgypt than I might have done had I not taken on this special project. I have only the highest respect for the advanced civilization and accomplishments of ancient Egypt. This book thus has both a negative and a positive purpose. The negative purpose is to show that the Afrocentric myth of ancient history is a myth, and not history. The positive purpose is to encourage people to learn as much about ancient Egypt and ancient Greece as possible. The ancient Egypt described by Afrocentrists is a fiction. I would like our children and college students to learn about the real ancient ElM>t and the real ancient Africa, and not about'the historical fiction invented by Europeans. Any work of this kind must inevitably take its readers into unfamiliar territory. For that reason I have tried to provide as many guideposts as possible along the way. I specify when writers wrote and where they came from., All quotations in foreign languages are translated (by me, unless otherwise noted). I have sought not to 'encumber the reader with learned references and footnotes; the narrative can be read straight'through without a glance at. the back of the book. But the references are there for anyone who wants to know them. A work on such a controversial subject requires thorough documentation. This book was written with the support of grants from Wellesley College, the Bradley Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation. Among the many people who have urged me to write this book, and to discuss these controversial issues, I am particularly grateful to the following for their support, advice, and encouragement: Harold Brackman, Deborah B. Cohen, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Glen Hartley, Barbara S. Held, Hel,ither R. Higgins, Kermit Hummel, Diane Ravitch, Frank M. Snowden, Jr., and Leon Wieseltier. The late F. W. Sternfeld alerted me to the importance of the work of the Abbe Jean Terrasson. Kelly J. King spent many hours in Boston libraries tracking down obscure books. Beatrice Cody, Christopher Korintus, Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones, and Stephanie O'Hara made many valuable suggestions about the manuscript. I could not have written the book without their help. Wellesley, Mq,ssachusetts July 1995. The paperback edition contains corrections, additions, and improvements. Among these are a full bibliography, with suggestions for further reading; a glossary of names to help people sort out who is who in the ancient writings mentioned in this book; and supplementary notes keyed to pages in the text, which provide more information and answer questions raised by reviewers and correspondents (these may be found after the endnotes). I have corrected some minor errors and typos. I have added an epilogue in which I discuss the central issues raised by the book, examine the rather curious arguments that have been presented by critics.and reviewers, and suggest topics for further discussion. My thanks to the friends, colleagues, and correspondents who have offered much helpful advice: John Baines, Harold Brackman, Brian Burrough, Beverly Coleman, Matthew Dickie, George ;M. Hollenback, Erich Martel, Jf/Jrgen Mejer, John Morgan, and Robert Renehan. Wellesley, Massachusetts January 1997 ...

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