The 1950s and 1960s saw dramatic change in Africa. By the mid-1950s, all of North Africa except Algeria was independent and by the mid-1960s most of tropical Africa had followed. ‘Imagining the future, rebuilding the past’ charts this period in African history and shows how this period also saw the emergence of African history as an academic discipline. Why did the European-ruled colonial empires collapse? Was this inevitable? During this climate of vast social change, rising expectations, and political struggle, interest in scholarly research into Africa's fascinating history soured. The process of reducing the legacy of colonial historiography would be long and arduous, and much contested.