Due to historical context, we have seen there are no simple answers to the basic questions for orienting any scientific, sociological study of Africa and her people. The African diaspora has been uniquely shaped by experiences of conquest and domination, resistance and survival. The experiences of slavery, colonization, and external domination have left in their wake considerable devastation.
Yet one also sees the amazing strength of a people able to adapt and diversify, and to love and live, and ultimately continue to be. Studies of African people and institutions commonly reveal the creative retention of authentic or indigenous traits. Such creative responses have been, in their own way, acts of resistance enabling cultural perpetuation. These adaptive responses have assured the ultimate survival of many aspects of African culture and institutions.
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It must also be noted that with time comes transition. Many things traditionally African have been altered, progressing from their original, indigenous form to completely new and different forms. It is perhaps in this tension, the reconciliation of the old with the new, the indigenous with the nonindigenous, that African studies will find its most exciting terrain for future inquiry.
The challenge will be to discover the cultures and the people who have been historically distorted by the twin activities of concealment from within, and degradation and misperception from without.
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