Lynn M. Thomas
Examines Africa's pasts from approximately 1880 to the present. Through the theme of the politics of wealth, explores the history of European colonization, African social and cultural life under colonial rule, anti-colonial movements and decolonization, and the changes and challenges of the postcolonial present.
This course will introduce you to the history of Africa – south of the Sahara desert – from approximately 1880 to the present. These years encompass European colonization and African resistance to it, the emergence of independent African nations, and the ongoing challenges of the postcolonial period.
We will pay particular attention to how relations of wealth and power have depended upon and encouraged distinctions based in race, gender, age, kinship, education, religion, language, class, and ethnicity. In exploring these issues, we will read and analyze a range of sources including government documents, novels, life histories, political tracts, a historical monograph, magazine and newspaper articles, and an ethnography. We will also pay particular attention to the strengths and limitations of each of these types of sources in helping us to understand Africa’s past and present. As sub-Saharan Africa is a large place and we don’t have time to cover all of it, course materials will focus on the present-day countries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Student learning goals
understand the diversity and complexity of Africa's past
examine connections between African, U.S., and global history
appreciate African people's agency in addressing the issues that shape their lives
enhance analytical thinking, speaking, and writing skills
improve overall writing skills
General method of instruction
Lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays with discussion sections on Fridays.
No prerequisities; just an enthusiasm for learning about Africa's pasts.
Class assignments and grading
Class participation, map and identification quizzes, take-home essays, and in-class final exam.
Class participation (15%); map and identification (two at 10% each), take-home essays (two at 20% each), and in-class final exam (25%).