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Course Information

Instructor Info:Rachel Engmann
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Cole Science Center 121
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Cole Science Center 121

Too often 'Western' historical narratives consider Africans and African Diasporans as 'People Without History'. Such a notion refers to peoples who cultures do not, or possess few formally written histories. This class employs archaeological evidence in order to investigate histories of imperialism, colonialism, genocide, slavery, resistance and black nationalism, dismantling the colonial library by exploring local histories once marginalized, silenced and erased.

This course focuses on the major themes, ideas and research entailed in the historical archaeology of the Africana experience, on both sides of the Atlantic, in Africa and in the Americas.  Throughout this course we will adopt an interpretive framework that draws upon the use of objects, texts and oral narratives, thereby illustrating the historical and cultural continuities between Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora.  We will begin by examining archaeological evidence from West Africa, exploring the impact of the Atlantic economy on African daily social life, for example shaping settlement patterns, architecture, sociopolitical organization and sociocultural practices.  We will then focus on material from North America and the Caribbean, exploring the ways in which enslaved Africans in the diaspora interpreted their conditions in the Americas, addressing topics such as social, racial, ethnic, religious and gendered identities, power and inequality, resistance and maroonage. 

The focus of this course is to examine the ways in which archaeological evidence can be interpreted to understand Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora in the past.  A critical component of this class will also be to understand the historical underpinnings of contemporary issues in Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora, by tracing how the past is mobilized within the present.  Whilst some of the readings address archaeological findings in detail, do not worry about the methodological aspects – our goal is to engage with the possibilities, problems and challenges presented by an archaeological approach of Atlantic Africa and the African diaspora in dialogue with other scholarly fields, in order to become critical, self-reflexive thinkers concerning the production of knowledge about the Africana experience.

Evaluation Criteria:

Course Requirements

Undergraduate students of various concentrations are welcome.  Students are expected to attend all class lectures and complete all assigned readings.  This course will combine lecture with discussions of the readings.  Lectures will highlight the major issues raised in the readings as well as provide supplementary examples.  Readings will be examined more fully during class discussion.  Attention and participation are essential.  In the classroom, everyone’s views and perspectives deserve to be heard.  General questions to think about concerning the readings will be provided each week in class.  Come to class prepared to discuss readings thoughtfully and critically.  All readings must be completed by the first class of each week.  All written assignments are due in hard copy at the start of class on the assigned date.  Late assignments will be marked down a third of a grade for every twenty-four hour period.  No incompletes will be given without prior arrangement.

Work will be assessed through class participation (10%), two short response papers (3-4 pages, typed double spaced, each 10%), a class presentation (15 mins, 20%) and final research paper (15 pages, typed double spaced 50%). 

Additional Info:

Course Texts

All readings will be available on the class website.