Africa is a place, a people, and a past. ‘The idea of Africa’ considers the sheer scale of both the past and place of what we call ‘Africa’ and relates it to how the history of the region has been imagined and represented. The notion of ‘African history’ is controversial and contested. Some dismiss it as unimportant; others embrace it as an ideological weapon. It is difficult to apply a precise definition to African history for this reason. Can a continent possess some kind of essential unity beyond the mere geographic? Does this unity set it apart from the rest of the world? How can we interpret the history of a continent with such a vast physical scale as Africa?