Explorers of Africa

Mapping the World through Primary Documents

by Toyin Falola and Jessica Achberger


Widely read in Europe, explorers' accounts of Africa had a profound and long-lasting influence on European views.

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Cover image for Explorers of Africa

November 2018


Pages 307
Volumes 1
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Geography and World Cultures/General
  World History/Science and Technology
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Using the writings of prominent European explorers, this volume provides an exceptional introduction to the history of African exploration and the resulting European perspectives and beliefs.

Offering a unique approach to the study of history, this book showcases the writings of more than a dozen explorers whose impressions of Africa during the "Age of Exploration" influenced not only their own generation, but generations to come. Well-known explorers such as David Livingstone, Richard Burton, and Henry Morton Stanley are featured, as are lesser-known individuals like Paul du Chaillu and Mary Kingsley. Several of the explorers generated the first written accounts of African cultures, societies, and geographies, informing—and forming—European understanding of Africa and its diverse peoples.

Each of the main chapters in the book begins with a brief biography of a featured explorer followed by a set of primary source documents written by that individual. Each document is preceded by a short introduction and followed by an analysis. The selected writings highlight particular contributions or experiences important to the explorer's voyages, as well as common themes about social attitudes, global political interests, and knowledge of Africa gained from the explorer's personal context.


  • Provides readers with the actual writings and impressions of explorers who first probed Africa
  • Balances breadth and depth by providing enough material to present a well-rounded understanding of each explorer, while also featuring an adequate number of explorers to speak to the broad history of African discovery
  • Offers analysis of primary sources to reveal how each document influenced foreigners' attitudes on Africa at the points of first contact
  • Integrates the narratives of lesser-known explorers who have often been overshadowed by the attention paid to their more-famous contemporaries
Series Description

Mapping the World through Primary Documents

Mapping the World through Primary Documents provides students with firsthand accounts and interpretations of geography of the past: the land over which explorers trekked, the people they met and cultures to which they were exposed, the animals they discovered, and their other experiences in new lands. This series supports Common Core Standards relating to primary source analysis as well as National Geography Standards. Students in geography, American history, and social studies classes will find the series extremely useful.
Author Info

Toyin Falola, PhD, is Distinguished Teaching Professor and Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin. He is author or editor of more than 100 books on diverse topics spanning the range of African history and the history of the African Diaspora. He has received several honorary doctoral degrees in recognition of his versatile academic excellence and has been the recipient of numerous career teaching and publication awards. Highlights include the Jean Holloway Award for Teaching Excellence, the Amistad Award, the SIRAS Award for Outstanding Contribution to African Studies, the Africana Studies Distinguished Global Scholar Lifetime Achievement Award, and the African Studies Association's Distinguished Africanist Award. Falola was also a finalist for the Herskovits Prize.

Ben Weiss is a doctoral student in the African history program at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of several articles and book chapters on a diverse range of topics in African history. His interests include HIV/AIDS, economic development, foreign aid and investment, health monitoring systems, and pharmaceutical supply networks in Africa. His dissertation aims to understand the colonial history of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) surveillance and treatment in southern Africa in order to contextualize more contemporary responses to early HIV/AIDS in the same area. Weiss is active at conferences across the globe and coordinated the 2015 University of Texas Annual Africa Conference.

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African Kingdoms cover imageEncyclopedia of African Colonial Conflicts cover imageAfrica cover image

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