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Human Rights in Africa

Introduction to resources and researching human rights within an African context. Resources highlighted include open access materials as well as those only available to the BU community.

About This Guide

Photo: A Mozambican refugee camp in South Africa. People awaiting food distribution. 1988.‚Äč David Restrick.

  This guide serves as a starting point for research on the topic of human rights in AfricaUse the navigation on the left for access to different types of information.  

A Complicated Area of Study

 It is critical to look at the history and broader context of any human rights issue. Very rarely are things as simple as they may appear on the surface.  You can research background information in a variety of ways. Bibliographies and reference materials can help provide an overview of the country/region/culture/situation.  Historical and ethnographic accounts can give deeper insight into events, circumstances and cultural practices that might inform the issue.

For example, to research the topic to the left, you could consult a bibliography on the subject, David M. Westley’s “Female Circumcision and Infibulation in Africa”  Traditionally bibliographies have been very helpful. Be sure to consult the bibliographies at the backs of the books you find of interest.

Bettina Shell-Duncan and Ylva Hernlund’s Female Circumcision in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change (2000; in print only) contains a useful bibliography at the back of their book.  (Note that this is also one of the best books on the subject.)

Another book, Female circumcision: multicultural perspectives, by Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf (available online) includes an extensive list of references.

A current area of study... 

Some human rights issues are long-standing, but others are very recent. Initial reports may occur in newspapers and on social media, with very little in the scholarly/academic world. This is another reason to do more background research – so that you can make an informed assessment of the situation.

Head, African Studies Library

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Beth Restrick
African Studies Library
6th floor, Mugar Memorial Library

Mon-Fri, 9am- 5pm
Subjects: African Studies