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Sources. Materials & Fieldwork in African Studies is an interdisciplinary and multilingual peer-reviewed journal. It covers the social sciences, humanities and archaeology.

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Knowing nature and the environment has become crucial in Africa in a context of increasing ecological crises. Major questions about the production and dissemination of such knowledge arise: What is considered to be knowledge or to be ignorance about the environment? How, by whom and for whom is knowledge produced? What is it used for? How and by what means is it disseminated? Who is considered knowledgeable? And how are epistemological hierarchies about nature built and contested? This special issue addresses these questions in relation to Madagascar, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Cameroon. The articles and two interviews explore environmental knowledge in an original way by focusing on the media and materials in which this knowledge is embodied: soil cores, minutes of meetings of environmental associations, legal acts, international protocols, tourist leaflets, and communication brochures for health campaigns, among others. Once collected, classified and put back into context, these objects are both places of knowledge and sources of analysis situated at the core of social science research on the environment in Africa.

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This Varia issue opens a new journey through the sources of our knowledge of Africa. It starts with the presentation of a unique aural source that highlights the complex relationship between local and global dynamics in Nigerian jihadism. An entirely bilingual paper (French and English) brushes a richly documented picture of a thirty-year-long research endeavour on the New Year festivities in Cape Town and their role in the construction of political identities. Other original contributions discuss the archeology of funeral sites in Sudan, anthropological approaches of migration and asylum in Uganda, the history of Afro-soviet networks through the Moscow archives related to Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène, and the use of Antoine d’Abbadie’s travel notebooks for the history of Ethiopia and of the exploration trips in the Horn of Africa. Last but not least, this issue hosts a conversation between three Rwandan historians about the historiography of the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda. This paper highlights the variety of sources that can be used and helps to re-contextualise the debates that surround the recently released “Rapport Duclert,” commissioned by the French Presidency to elucidate the role of France in the genocide.

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This special issue contributes to the debates on how to relate to violence in the social sciences and humanities, particularly on the African continent. Violence is a research object with significant emotional, partisan, and ideological power and its study requires a specific questioning about access to fieldwork, ethnographic immersion, the nature of field materials and their conditions of collect. The contributions gathered here focus on varied empirical materials used both as the starting point and basis for the analysis. Through various case studies, they all illustrate the value of making a methodological detour through sources and materials, as well as highlight the multiple ways through which these sources and materials can be produced.

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Sources: Materials & Fieldwork in African Studies has taken on a novel mission for a social sciences and humanities journal: to place field materials at the heart of the analysis. The journal aims to consider the empirical objects researchers produce—and more often co-produce—in their particular investigative context and using specific methods that facilitate theory-building. These materials are very diverse in nature. They relate always to an object of study, the research questions that are being developed and re-developed in relation to it, and the research conditions at the time.

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