Photo: Mozambicans in a refugee camp, awaiting food distribution. 1988. David Restrick.
This guide serves as a starting point for research on the topic of human rights in Africa. Use 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.
For example, Bettina Shell-Duncan and Ylva Hernlund’s Female Circumcision in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change (Boulder CO: Lynn Rienner, 2000). GN484 F443 2000 contains a useful bibliography at the back of their book. (Note that this is also one of the best books on the subject.)
A current area of study...
Some human rights issues are long-standing, but many are very recent. You may see reports in newspapers and on social media, but 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.