HIS 382L • Africa and African Diaspora
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
The concept of the African Diaspora refers to a multi-dimesional relationship linking a dispersed group of people to a homeland, Africa, and to each other. It was borne out of the involuntary, and to some extent voluntary, movement of Africans to various areas of the world, particularly the Americas. The result is the creation of a complex set of communities with related and/or shared historical, cultural, and political trajectories. This course will explore the historical development and dynamics of this relationship through a multi-disciplinary approach. Students will be encouraged to analyze the African Diaspora through history, literature, culture, language, economics, and politics. The course is organized into three sections. The first is an overview of the theoretical and analytical dimensions of studying the African Diaspora. Here we will discuss the meanings of Diaspora, including the elements of "homeland," dispersal, community formation, culture, economy, and violence. This section will also introduce two salient themes of the history of the African Diaspora that we will investigate throughout the course: racial oppression and the resistance to it. The second section of the course will explore the historical phenomenon which allowed for the creation of the Diaspora. We will investigate, in particular: 1) the African background of diasporic communities, and 2) the role of the Atlantic slave trade as initiating the creation of the diaspora. Slavery, in fact, was the primary engine in the creation of the diaspora, and will therefore be given special attention. The third section will examine various societies and cultures of the African Diaspora to highlight some its most important social, economic, political and cultural dimensions.
This course will combine readings and research relating to historical and theoretical materials on comparative slavery, Atlantic history, cultures and societies of the Atlantic World, post-colonial theories, and contemporary issues of globalization. These should, by design at least, allow students to pursue projects that best fit their needs. Those students who have research and data can elect to write a 20-page (or thereabouts) research essay using their data, while those students not yet prepared to write such an essay can elect to write a 5-10 page research proposal. The course should help each student to use the class as a forum, and to use the background and interests of each colleague to help them with their research essay or research proposal as well as to participate in debates on several contentious issues.