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AY/GS 316 Religion and Social Change in Contemporary Africa: Resources

Spring 2020 (Halvorson)

Find Scholarly Articles

The two main databases for this course.

Other databases for supporting interdisciplinary information.

Articles in scholarly and/or peer-reviewed journals are particularly important to academic research.

Find Scholarly Books

SEARCH our library catalog - the Entire CBB Collection or just Colby.

Is a book scholarly? Investigate the author & publisher. Look for ethnographic research and scholarly analysis. Check for a substantive bibliography/notes that cite other scholarly publications and reliable primary sources.

To order items from Colby Storage, Bates or Bowdoin: Click on

Other Catalogs:

Materials not available at Colby or our partner institutions can often be obtained through ILLiad, our interlibrary loan service.

Good Research Takes Time

Keep a research log & document every search.

Explore a variety of search terms.

Check multiple resources.

Carefully evaluate all materials.

Photo: Clock Roskilde University by nikolainewyork

 Photo: Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali by Martha de Jong-Lantink (Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Search Tips

  1. Catalog and database searches are very literal; results only include items with the exact word(s) given.
  2. Use an asterisk to expand a search all endings of a word: religio* = religion, religions, religious, religiously
  3. Use quotes to glue together a phrase: "Democratic Republic of Congo"
  4. To find either of two terms, put them in parentheses with OR between each term: (healer* OR sangoma*)
  5. Use Advanced Search and put different concepts on each row.
  6. As you find material, scan for alternative search terms in item records and references, and then try new searches.
  7. Start with a keyword search and look for subject heading links in item records. These group material by "aboutness."
  8. Zoom out of geographical areas if you don't find what your looking for (Try: Kenya, then Africa*
  9. Keep a log of search terms

 Sample Keywords:

  • Africa* (or individual countries)
  • religio* (or individual religions)
  • "social life and customs"
  • "participant observation"

Start with Keyword searches and then look at item records for relevant Subject Headings.  These gather together items by "aboutness." The following are Subject headings in item record for the book: When Norms Collide:

Sample Subject Headings are listed below. (Change 1st drop-down to Subject.)

  • Country names (e.g. Botswana)
  • Africa
  • Ethnic groups (e.g. Dogon)
  • Religion and state -- Africa, Sub-Saharan -- Case studies
  • Pentecostalism -- Africa

Note that some terms are often used as sub-headings in Subjects. If your not sure of a subject string, you can also search these as keywords (phrases in quotes) added to primary subject headings.

  • Bibliographies
  • Case studies
  • Social life and customs

Use Advanced Search to mix and match keyword and subject searches.


OneSearch searches multiple resources at once. Use for very precise searches:

  • Finding a specific article
  • Finding book chapters on a writer or an artistic work
  • Finding book reviews

For best results, use limiters. 

Reference Information

Photo: Book by Lalena Jaramillo

Humanities Librarian

Erin Rhodes's picture
Erin Rhodes

Special Collections & Archives
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