Africa in the American Mind, 1870-1955: A Study in Mythology, Ideology and the Reconstruction of Race

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Sears address the question, what role did popular concepts of Africa play in the formation of ideas about race in America and in the history of race relations in the United States, by looking at the various American visions of Africa. These include the "Dark Continent" of David Livingstone and H. M. Stanley, the exotic and unknown land explored by naturalists such as Theodore Roosevelt, and the "Brightest Africa" of beauty and natural resources described by Carl Akeley and Osa and Martin Johnson. The last chapter analyzes the impact of the Mau Mau war in Kenya during the 1950s on American concepts of Africa. Sears concludes that Americans create concepts of Africa to meet cultural needs and to support popular views towards race.


  • Roosevelt, Theodore 1858-1919
  • Akeley, Carl Ethan, 1864-1926
  • Johnson, Martin, 1884-1937
  • Johnson, Osa, 1894-1953
  • Livingstone, David 1813-1873
  • Smithsonian African Expedition (1909-1910)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Ph.D. dissertation

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


  • 1997
  • Mau Mau Emergency, 1952-1960


  • United States - - Civilization - - African American influences
  • Scientific expeditions
  • History
  • United States - - Race Relations
  • African Americans - - Relations with Africans


  • Africa
  • Kenya

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371 pps

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