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Research Methods in Africana Studies | Revised Edition


Serie McDougal III

The revised edition of Research Methods in Africana Studies is a major contribution to the discipline of Africana studies and social science involving people of African descent in general. The first edition was the first of its kind, offering instruction on how to conduct culturally relevant critical research on Africana communities in the American context, in addition to the African diaspora. The revised edition contains a collection of the most widely used theories and paradigms designed for exploring, explaining, and advancing Africana communities through science. The relevance, strengths, and weaknesses of every major method of data collection are explained as they relate to the lived experiences of the Black world. It stands alone as the only textbook that details empirical methods in the service of the collective advancement of Africana peoples.

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Chapter 6: Measuring Social Reality


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Through exacting long-term observation, our ancestors determined that seasonal cycles, vegetation growth cycles, and even animal migration and mating cycles correlated with the cyclic changing position of the moon and sun. That information provided them with a reliable and perpetual time frame—a calendar—to schedule their social festivals and rituals and to know the optimum planting and harvest times. Their culture, along with their economy, was wedded to the sky. In striving for greater calendrical accuracy, the astronomer priests of many African families, such as the Dogon of Mali in Africa, incorporated the rising and setting of certain stars or groups of stars into their various calendars. Such accuracy was necessary to make certain that the sacred holy days coincided precisely with the end or beginning of one of nature’s basic cycles, thus maintaining their community’s harmonious relationship with nature. Politics was also involved: priests derived their power and influence by keeping an accurate calendar.

—Hunter Havelin Adams III (2001)

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