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This chapter lays out the histories under examination. In doing so, it also introduces the notion of “unreasonable histories.” These subaltern histories are unreasonable from the standpoint of evidence (through fragmented archives), politics (by supporting, rather than resisting, colonial states), and in terms of subjects for African history, given that multiracial people defy discrete racial categories. The chapter argues that colonial nativism—which focused state concern on black African communities—has transformed into a postcolonial nativism, with black communities addressed by scholars to the exclusion of other minority communities. This continuity has created “invisible” histories, a problem that needs to be critically addressed. Finally, this chapter explains structure of the book—a genealogical history, in the mode of Foucault—as a means of engaging with these issues.

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