Out of Our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Out of Our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  24 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Explorers and ethnographers in Africa during the period of colonial expansion are usually assumed to have been guided by rational aims such as the desire for scientific knowledge, fame, or financial gain. This book, the culmination of many years of research on nineteenth-century exploration in Central Africa, provides a new view of those early European explorers and their...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published June 13th 2000 by University of California Press (first published May 14th 2000)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 60)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Sara-Maria Sorentino
This work easily tops the list of the best non-fiction I’ve read in quite some while. Certainly different (in form and style only, for the themes are consistent) from his highly abstruse work Time and the Other. Fabian invites us to the epistemological exercise of traveling ‘through the minds of travelers’: these travelers being a collection of men from German and Belgium expeditions in Central Africa during the late 19th and early 20th century, a pivotal time in the history of contact. “Our tar...more
Justin Dell
This monograph constitutes a considerable challenge to the romantic myth of the European colonial explorer as an intrepid hero, guided by reason, charting new lands for king and country. The truth is, German and Belgian explorers of central Africa, who form the case study in Fabian's text, often went 'out of their minds' in ecstasy as they were immersed in a nexus of experiences 'on the ground' in the mission field. Instead of remaining immutably European in character and deportment (in the myth...more
[officiele recensie]

Deze recensie is geschreven met het oog op de instrumentele waarde die Fabian in Out of our minds neerschrijft. We bevatten deze tekst als een kritische blik op verleden kennisverwerving en geschiedschrijving. Daarom kunnen de ideeën die hier worden aangehaald voldoende worden geïnterpreteerd om tot een eigen kritische vorm van denken over het menselijk handelen komen. Waar Fabian zich uitlaat over het verleden, ontdekkingsreizigers...more
Sam Beer
Fabian challenges two particular conceptions of exploration and ethnography in central Africa in the late 19th and early 20th century: the explorer as a rational agent of science, and the explorer as a complicit agent of the empire, who may therefore be dismissed out of hand. In spite of (because of?) the madness often demonstrated by the cited ethnographers, accounts often contained shockingly self-aware critiques of contemporary ethnographic theory and practice, many of which remain quite rele...more
Jul 01, 2009 Naeem rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those serious about understanding cultural encounter, ethnography, and colonialism
Recommended to Naeem by: Sara-Maria Sorentino
I read this book rather quickly (sneaking it in against my ban on reading and writing this summer), in order to determine if I would read it again.

I plan to read it again with great care. There is something both fantastic and essential that Fabian has put his finger on.

I refer you to the detailed and excellent review by Sara-Maria:


A friend of mine gave me this book after I returned from a year in Malawi, exhausted, depressed, and extremely self-critical for not having accomplished all (or really hardly any) of what I'd set out to do; it helped put my own experience into perspective.
Udaiiiiiii marked it as to-read
May 10, 2014
Morringhan marked it as to-read
Jan 07, 2014
Oana marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2013
Yudha added it
Aug 25, 2013
Rachel added it
May 16, 2013
Bethan marked it as to-read
Apr 24, 2013
Chelsea marked it as to-read
Apr 07, 2013
Jeff Schauer
Jeff Schauer is currently reading it
Apr 06, 2013
Stephanie McGarrah
Stephanie McGarrah marked it as to-read
Feb 18, 2013
Samantha marked it as to-read
Feb 15, 2013
Jesse marked it as to-read
Feb 12, 2013
abcdefg marked it as to-read
Oct 28, 2012
Pavel is currently reading it
Sep 28, 2012
Andrew marked it as to-read
Jun 24, 2012
Pattrice marked it as to-read
Sep 11, 2012
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object Language and Colonial Power: The Appropriation of Swahili in the Former Belgian Congo 1880-1938 Remembering the Present: Painting and Popular History in Zaire Anthropology with an Attitude: Critical Essays Memory against Culture: Arguments and Reminders

Share This Book