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Cambridge LibGuides

African Studies Library: Where To Start Your Research

Library catalogue

Electronic resources

The Cambridge eresources team has compiled a comprehensive LibGuide for eresources & ejournals

As an example: using the keyword "Africa" as a search term in the A-Z list of ejournals produces 325 titles:

Access the example "Africa" ejournals list here

Once you have found the title that you are looking for you can click directly through to the full text that is available to you as a University member (Raven login may be required)

Wikipedia also has a list of international academic journals for you to peruse: List of African studies journals  

You can check access using the ejournals & eresources LibGuide

Advice on how to find print journals stored in the African Studies Library

View a list of print journals in the Library

Below is a selection of useful electronic databases for African Studies. Some may require your Raven login, especially if you are not on campus. For a comprehensive list of online resources available to you searchable by subject and keyword, please see the eresources & ejournals LibGuide.

Africa focus
  • - (open access) : Hosted by the African Studies Centre Leiden as "...a service provided free to the World". This bibliographic database consists of approx. 225,000 African studies publications and is an amalgamation of the following 6 databases: Africana Periodical Literature; African Women; Women Travellers, Explorers and Missionaries to Africa; Islam in Africa; Kenya Coast; Water

  • Africa Bibliography (Raven login) : Includes monographs, chapters in edited volumes, journal articles, and pamphlets, covering all regions of Africa, including North Africa and listing works published in English as well as Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Swahili, Spanish and Afrikaans. Subject coverage in the social and environmental sciences, humanities and arts, and some items from the medical, biological and natural sciences

  • African Digital Research Repositories (open access) : The following list of known repositories within the African continent has been compiled by the International African Institute as a service to African studies research and scholarship in line with our remit to promote the dissemination of knowledge from and on Africa. It is unlikely to be comprehensive and will be regularly reviewed and updated.

  • African Studies Abstracts Online (open access) : ASA Online provides a quarterly overview of journal articles and edited works on Africa in the field of the social sciences and the humanities available in the ASC library (Leiden)

  • African Studies Companion Online (Raven login) : contains over 1800 entries covering guides and resources for African languages, Africa cartography and maps, African film, African studies journals, magazines and newsletters, media guides and news sources for Africa, the African press, African studies library collections worldwide, national archives in Africa, centers of African studies and African studies programs worldwide, awards and prizes in African studies, and a wealth of other subjects. 

  • African Writers Series (Raven login) : For over 40 years, Heinemann's African Writers Series published the key texts of modern African literature. It has a unique importance in the history of postcolonial writing. This online edition includes over 250 volumes of fiction, poetry, drama and non-fictional prose, including works by Chinua Achebe, Ama Ata Aidoo, Steve Biko, Buchi Emecheta, Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, Doris Lessing, Nelson Mandela, Dambudzo Marechera, Christopher Okigbo, Okot p'Bitek and Tayeb Salih.

  • Commonwealth iLibrary : an online searchable repository of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s publications. 

  • Commonwealth & Latin American Archives Project : an extensive collection of political ephemera.

  • Connecting-Africa (open access) : Connecting-Africa is a gateway to African research information and materials produced worldwide. It provides access to 59490 publications from 93 repositories as well as information on 1354 Africa experts (researchers, policymakers, development practioners) and on 890 organisations (research or development-related institutes with expertise on Africa).

  • Electronic Journals and Newspapers on Africa (open access) : Freely available and relevant journals and newspapers listed by Columbia University Library information services.

  • Empire Online (Raven login) : This resource brings together manuscript, printed and visual primary source materials for the study of 'Empire' and its theories, practices and consequences.

  • FOCUS: Sub-Saharan Africa (open access) : The Open Knowledge Repository contains the World Bank’s premium research dealing with key aspects of development in Sub-Saharan Africa. This site contains thousands of published books, journal articles, economic and sector studies, working papers, and knowledge briefs.

  • ILISSAfrica (open access) : The internet library sub-Saharan Africa (ILISSAfrica) is a portal that offers an integrated access to relevant scientific conventional and digital information resources on the sub-Saharan Africa region. Information scattered on private or institutional websites, databases or library catalogues is brought together in order to facilitate research.

  • Open Data for Africa (open access)

By subject
  • Anthropology Plus (Raven login) : Comprehensive, focused index covering publications in anthropology and related disciplines issued from the mid-19th century to the present. Social, cultural, physical, biological, and linguistic anthropology and archaeology (particularly prehistoric archaeology) are indexed comprehensively. Closely related fields such as folklore, material culture, human evolution, primatology, zooarchaeology, museum studies, and visual studies are all well represented. Unites two premier indexes produced in two hemispheres – Anthropological Literature (AL) at Harvard University and Anthropological Index Online (AIO) at the British Museum -- both indexing many of the core anthropology publications while individually covering many lesser-known and local publications, yielding in-depth coverage of a broad array of the world’s scholarship in anthropology.

  • ArtStor (Raven login) : Database of digital images & accompanying scholarly information for use in art history and other humanistic fields of learning including the related social sciences. Includes approx. 300,000 images covering art, architecture & archaeology.

  • ATLA Religion Database (Raven login) : ATLA Religion Database provides information on topics such as biblical studies, world religions, church history, and religion in social issues. This database is the definitive index for religious and theological literature.

  • Cambridge Histories Online (Raven login)

  • Encyclopaedia of Islam (Raven login) : The third edition of Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Islam is an entirely new work, with new articles reflecting the great diversity of current scholarship. The new scope includes comprehensive coverage of Islam in the twentieth century and of Muslim minorities all over the world.

  • Encyclopedia of Political Thought (Raven login) :  The entries range in size from shorter definitions and biographies to extended treatments of major topics and traditions. Tracing the evolution of political thinking from antiquity to the present.

  • Encyclopedia of the Qu'ran (Raven login) : The Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān Online is an encyclopaedic dictionary of qur’ānic terms, concepts, personalities, place names, cultural history and exegesis extended with essays on the most important themes and subjects within qur’ānic studies.

  • Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) daily service reports (1974-1996) (Raven login) : An archive of 20th Century news from around the world. Global views on United States foreign and domestic policy after World War II

  • Historical Abstracts (Raven login) : Historical Abstracts is a reference guide to the history of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the United States and Canada). This database offers annotated references to information on topics from the Renaissance to the present -over 1.5 million entries in all. 1800+ journals published throughout the world are covered in the database, including key historical journals from virtually every major country.

  • Oxford Bibliographies (Raven login) : Includes the following subject collections: Anthropology, Film & Media Studies, International Relations, Sociology 

  • Public Affairs Information Service (Raven login) : This resource covers issues in the public debate through selective coverage of a wide variety of international sources including journal articles, books, government documents, statistical directories, grey literature, research reports, conference papers, web content, and more.

  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (Raven login) : Worldwide Political Science Abstracts provides abstracts and indexing of the international literature of political science and international relations, along with complementary fields, including international law and public administration/policy.

  • Factiva (Raven login) : Factiva is a database of over 8,000 business and news publications, most in full text. Sources are in 22 languages, date back as far as 1969, and include trade journals, newswires (Dow Jones, Reuters, and others), media programs, and company and stock reports. Search publications by title, industry, geographic locations, type, and language.

  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS) (Raven login) : This database includes over 3 million bibliographic references to journal articles and to books, reviews and selected chapters dating back to 1951. It is unique in its broad coverage of international material and incorporates over 100 languages and countries. Over 2,800 journals are regularly indexed and some 7,000 books are included each year.

  • Scopus (Raven login) : Scopus is a navigation tool covering the world's largest collection of abstracts, references and indexes of scientific, technical and medical (STM) literature. Seamless links to full-text articles and other library resources make Scopus quick, easy and comprehensive. 

  • Web of Science (Raven login) : The Web of Science (citation indexes), published by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), is a multidisciplinary database, with searchable author abstracts, covering the journal literature of the sciences, social sciences and arts. It indexes major journals in these disciplines. Because the information stored about each article includes the article's cited reference list (often called its bibliography), you can also search the databases for articles that cite a known author or work. 


Any newspapers that the University holds in print or as an online resource will appear when using the iDiscover catalogue. Many print runs will most likely be held at the main University Library. The African Studies Library do hold short runs of the following in print:

  • Mail & Guardian 1996-2009
  • Daily Times Nigeria 1992-1994
  • East African 1997-2000
  • Voice of the Arab World 1975-1981
  • Imbila Kasoma (Zambia) 1969-1971
  • Central African Mail Lusaka 1964-1965

Please ask us at the issue desk for further help with our newspaper collection, or fill in an online fetching form for any of the issues listed above.

The Library has subscription access to CAMP. CAMP acquires and preserves materials in microform and digital formats including newspapers, with its focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Through (CAMP) we can order newspapers on microfilm and some digital content.  Search the CAMP catalogue here.


British Library

The British Library holds an impressive collection of African newspapers, with the earliest dating back to the mid 19th century.

Visit the British Library's information pages on newspapers.

The Cambridge eresources team has compiled a comprehensive LibGuide for international Newspapers which offers a list of online:

  • Newspaper archives

  • Current newspapers

  • News sites


African Studies Library

The Library's holdings of audio and visual material can be found using the iDiscover catalogue, or by browsing the cases that are on display by the issue desk, or on the shelves:

  • Programmes relating to Africa shown on British domestic television since the beginning of 1994 to the present (these were first recorded on videotape, and later directly to DVD -  any remaining programmes on video are gradually being transferred to DVD).

  • Truth Commission Special Reports broadcast on South African television from 1996 to 1998.

  • A small number of feature films and various commercial DVDs, including those recommended for the MPhil in African Studies (these are available to borrow on overnight loan only).

  • The Library also has a small number of CD-ROMs and some audio CDs.  These can either be used in the Library or borrowed on 7 day loan (or longer, if the CD accompanies a book).

University Film Services


The University is a member of the British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC). Our membership provides Raven password access to the Television and Radio Index for Learning and Teaching (TRILT) which has listings of more than 300 TV and radio channels (1995 onwards).  You are able to set up auto-alert emails for forthcoming programmes relevant to your research interests.

Login to TRILT

If you notice a programme that you think would be useful for the Library, please don't hesitate to let us know and we can order the title.


Kanopy provides access to one of the most unique collections of films in the world – including award-winning documentaries, training films and theatrical releases – on every topic imaginable (& in nearly every language).

If you search by subject: Global Studies & Languages - > African Studies; the collection includes over 320 films

Audio / Visual Archives 
  • Access the British Library's list of visual collections on Africa 

  • Africa Through A Lens (National Archives UK) - "Explore incredible photographs spanning over 100 years of African history, from the 1860s onwards, taken from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office photographic collection (CO 1069)"

  • African Writers' Club  (Raven login) - "The African Writers Club collection comprises over 250 hours of radio programmes recorded in the 1960s at the Transcription Centre, London, under its Director Dennis Duerden. The tapes were distributed for broadcast by radio stations in Africa and elsewhere... This material should prove invaluable to students of African Studies, and in particular to students of the rich vein of creative writing in Africa in the middle of the 20th century."  Interviews include : Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ama Ata Aidoo & many more.

  • Archive of Malian Photography - Circa 100,000 photographic negatives from the archives of Mamadou Cissé, Adama Kouyaté, Abdourahmane Sakaly, Malick Sidibé, and Tijani Sitou for long-term preservation and access. Spanning the 1940s-90s, this collection reveals changes and continuities in political and cultural practices, social trends, and photographic production in Mali during the twentieth century.

  • Consult the British Library's audio collections on Africa

  • Filmed Interviews with Leading Thinkers - compiled by Alan Macfarlane, Department of Social Anthropology (Cambridge) - this archive includes interviews with researchers such as: Ray AbrahamsJean & John ComaroffMeyer FortesClifford GeertzJack Goody; and the founder of African Studies at Cambridge, Audrey Richards.  Originally focusing on Social Anthropologists, the collection now houses over 240 interviews with leading thinkers across the disciplines.

  • ICRC Audiovisual Archives - "The ICRC’s collections of sound recordings, film footage, videos and photos illustrate and document the activities of the ICRC and of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as a whole from the end of the 19th century up to the present day, in all operational contexts." Coverage includes response to: the Ebola crisis; decolonization wars; and current situations in Mozambique, South Sudan, and DRC.

  • G I Jones Photographic Archive Southeastern Nigerian Art & Culture -   The photographs in this archive were taken in the 1930s by the late G. I. Jones. 

  • Northcote Thomas Website project  - "On this site you will be able to explore part of the extraordinary collection of Northcote Whitridge Thomas (1868-1936) held at the Museum for Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge."

  • Old and New in Shona Religion - "This multimedia website showcases the photography and work of Dr. M.L. Daneel, including his research among the Shona people of Southern Africa in the 1960s through the 1990s in Zimbabwe from the mid to late 20th century"

  • Royal Commonwealth Society (part of the main University Library) - "a treasure-trove of information, pictorial and written, print and manuscript, on the Commonwealth and Britain's former colonial territories, comprising over 300,000 printed items, about 800 archival collections (including manuscript diaries, correspondence, pictures, cine films, scrapbooks and newspaper cuttings) and over 120,000 photographs."

  • Royal Commonwealth Society digitised collections (hosted by Cambridge Digital Library) 

UK African Film Festivals
  • Africa in Motion (AIM) Scotland African Film Festival - Africa in Motion (AiM) is an annual African film festival taking place in Scotland, consisting of film screenings and complementary events. 
  • Cambridge African Film Festival (CAFF) - "The Cambridge African Film Festival is the oldest annual African film festival in the UK. It was initiated in May 2002 by a small group of graduate students at the University of Cambridge as a way of screening the best contemporary African films, increasing knowledge and awareness of African and black culture in the UK, providing a UK audience for African filmmakers, and offering an important counterbalance to the Western media’s stereotyping of Africa."
  • Film Africa (RAS) - "Film Africa is the Royal African Society’s annual festival celebrating the best African cinema from across the continent and diaspora."

The Cambridge eresources team has compiled a comprehensive LibGuide for Audio-visual resources available to members of the University including:

  • Moving image

  • Still image

  • Sound

  • Cambridge Digital Library


There are many sources of news, research, and analysis on Africa available online via: portals, collaborative research programmes, libraries, societies, and other educational institutions.  

Associations & Societies
  • African Studies Association UK (ASAUK) - "A major aim of the ASAUK is to facilitate linkages between UK and African institutions, and between scholars in Africa and the UK."  

  • Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion - "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Durham University and Church Mission Society founded the project in 2015... To raise up new 'Doctors of the Church' in the global South to write, network, publish and engage with theologians in the global North, to renew the worldwide Church and influence society"

  • Royal African Society (RAS) -  "We foster a better understanding of Africa in the UK and throughout the world - its history, politics, culture, problems and potential.  We disseminate knowledge and insight to make a positive difference to Africa's development.  We celebrate the diversity and depth of African Culture."

  • SCOLMA (UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) - "We are a forum for librarians, archivists and others concerned with African studies materials in libraries and archives in the United Kingdom.  Through our various activities and institutions, we aim to provide the best possible service for academics, students and other researchers working in African studies."

  • African Arguments  - "We publish high quality analysis of African current affairs and politics from inside the continent and through our global network of writers"

  • AfricaRenewal Online (UN) - "The Africa Renewal information programme, produced by the Africa Section of the United Nations Department of Public Information, provides up-to-date information and analysis of the major economic and development challenges facing Africa today."

  • Africa Check - "Africa Check is an independent, non-partisan organisation which assesses claims made in the public arena using journalistic skills and evidence drawn from the latest online tools, readers, public sources and experts, sorting fact from fiction and publishing the results"

  • African Online Digital Library - "The African Online Digital Library (AODL) is a portal to multimedia collections about Africa"  Contents include photographs, interviews, documents, full-text journals.

  • Africa Files - "Launched in 2002, is a network of people committed to Africa through its promotion of human rights, economic justice, African perspectives and alternative analyses."

  • Africa Portal - "The Africa Portal is an online resource that seeks to broaden the availability, accessibility and use of policy research on issues critical to the future of Africa."

  • African Studies Virtual Library via Columbia University Libraries - "Since 1997, Columbia University's collection of African Studies Internet Resources has served as the official WWW-Virtual Library guide for African Studies"

  • Eldis - "Our aim is to share the best in development policy, practice and research. Browse the latest editorially selected content from over 7,500 development organisations - all available free to download. Share your work with over 80,000 development practitioners"

  • Good Governance Africa (GGA) - "GGA is a research and advocacy non-profit organisation with centres across Africa focused solely on improving government performance across the continent. GGA engages in applied research and stimulates critical debate."

  • South African History online - "SAHO is committed to promoting history and critically engaging with our past through the building of a comprehensive online encyclopaedia and popular history programmes on South African and African history and culture."

  • The Conversation (Africa) - "It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.  Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public."

Research Institutes
  • Africa Desk - "At its heart are directories of African and UK scholars - it encompasses the latest edition of the 'ASAUK Directory of Africanists in Britain' - in addition to information on African studies centres in the UK and specialist Africanist libraries in the UK and elsewhere in Europe."

  • Africa Research Institute (ARI) - "Africa Research Institute (ARI) encourages debate, questions orthodoxy and challenges “received wisdom” in and about Africa. We seek to promote an informed, nuanced and representative understanding of the continent... ARI’s research is distributed widely within Africa and elsewhere to decision-makers, institutions and individuals with a keen interest in the continent’s future."

  • African Studies Centre Leiden web dossiers (University of Leiden, Netherlands) - "The dossiers deal with topical issues in African Studies and are usually published to coincide with a conference or event or with recent developments in Africa. They appear on average three or four times a year."

  • Thinking Africa (POLIS @ Rhodes University, SA) – " dedicated to a sustained interrogation of what it means to speak about Africa in a post-Area Studies and post-disciplinary intellectual world. Our main focus is on how to produce more black intellectuals for the next generation of humanities scholars in (South) Africa."

Theses & dissertations

  • The African Studies Library holds (permitted) copies of dissertations from the African Studies MPhil course, dating back to 2011.  These are useful to refer to for structure, writing style, referencing style, and sources. 
  • Dissertations are available for consultation within the Library only, they may not be borrowed or copied in any way.  Please see a list of dissertations at the bottom of this page.
  • The Library also holds a number of bound PhD theses in the basement archive. Please ask us at the issue desk if you wish to consult any theses or dissertations.

You are able to view theses from across the world online.  Try some of the following routes:

  • Apollo: Full-text digital versions of several hundred Cambridge Ph.D. theses. This is a rapidly growing collection deposited by Cambridge Ph.D. graduates on a voluntary basis.
  • Networked Digital Library of Theses & Dissertations: International freely available theses and dissertations 
  • DART-EuropeDissertations and theses from across Europe
  • EthOSElectronic copies of Ph.D. theses submitted at over 100 UK universities are obtainable from EThOS, a service set up to provide access to all theses from participating institutions.
  • OATD - Open Access Theses & Dissertations: aims to be the best possible resource for finding open access graduate theses and dissertations published around the world. Metadata (information about the theses) comes from over 1100 colleges, universities, and research institutions. OATD currently indexes 4,189,303 theses and dissertations.
  • ProQuest Theses & Dissertations: The University subscribes to this database and titles are grouped by general subject packages (i.e. Social Sciences, History, Business)

For more in-depth information regarding these online services (including charges where applicable) please see the:

Theses & Dissertations LibGuide

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