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Language history is an important element of construction of pre-colonial history in Africa. In the last decades the appreciation for cultural diversity has grown substantially and with a growing interest in the past. Stories of origin have gained importance and many cultural festivals have been initiated. The interest in the past has the potential of highlighting differences and engendering discourses of belonging. Balanced language history with a central interest in language contact can engender interest and positive attitudes to the history of ones’ neighbours. The panel is interested in papers that deal with current discourses about the past, specifically in communities in Africa, their literary and political dimension as well as their bases in language history. Language history, here includes historical reconstruction, contact linguistics, oral history, philology and manuscript culture.