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African American Studies

The Discipline and Its Dimensions

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Nathaniel Norment, Jr.

African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions is a comprehensive resource book that recounts the development of the discipline of African American Studies and provides a basic reference source for sixteen areas of knowledge of the discipline: anthropology, art, dance, economics, education, film, history, literature, music, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, political science, science and technology, sports and religion. African American Studies defines bodies of knowledge, methodologies, philosophies, disciplinary concepts, contents, scope, topics scholars have concerned themselves, as well as the growth, development, and present status of the discipline. African American Studies validates that African American Studies is a unique and significant discipline—one that intersects almost every academic discipline and cultural construct—and confirms that the discipline has a noteworthy history and a challenging future. The various bodies of knowledge, the philosophical framework, methodological procedures, and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline have never been clearly delineated from an African-centered perspective.

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10. African American Economics

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CHAPTER 10

African American Economics

Denkyem “Crocodile” Symbol of adaptability

The crocodile lives in the water, yet breathes the air,

demonstrating an ability to adapt to circumstances

In the first place, we need to obtain economic independence …

—Carter G. Woodson

The African Antecedent

Systems of economics have been present in every civilization and are the function of a society through which goods and services are distributed. Economics as a formal discipline began, as most fields of study, from a philosophical foundation. How groups have conceptualized the ways by which goods and services are distributed is often revealed by their worldview and environmental circumstances. There has been very little research as to how this function operated in African societies prior to European interventions. When there have been attempts to explain their operational histories, the research has been filtered through traditional Western views of economics and scarcity. There are clear benefits for uncovering how African Americans can improvise on Africans traditional methods of economic control of their communities. Given the impositions of the modern political economy as it affects African populations, notions of how their predecessors solved economic problems within their communities become crucial. In fact, the ancestral memory of African people may contain solutions to the global economic crises that have arisen as a result of capitalism. This section seeks to briefly examine some of these systems and their various implications for...

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