The contours of this course are threefold. First, and foremost, this course provides an introduction to the evolution of the study of the African American experience. This means that we will examine historical origins leading to the emergence of African American History and by extension, Afro-American Studies, Black Studies, or Africana Studies as a field of scholarly inquiry-this will include a critical examination of local struggles on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. Second, this course is a general survey that examines the board arc of history regarding the African American experience beginning with themes that include but are not limited to: Africa and the origins of civilization, images of Africans before the advent of global systems of slavery, the trans-Atlantic Slave System, the Arab Slave System, the Development of African American culture in the Americas, the Haitian Revolution, the Age of Imperial Colonialism, the Jim Crow Era, and other relevant themes from challenges to racial segregation during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements to racial implementation within the American Criminal Justice System in the 21st century.
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History majors interested in studying key themes as well as methodological approaches to critical analysis and critical writing of African American history and Black culture.
HIS-200 B shall be regarded as a community of scholars (students and instructor) coming together to examine selected topics of the African American History and Black Culture. In the process of this examination students will be focusing on acquiring information, improving writing skills and sharpening critical thinking ability. To attain these goals we will be involved in reading, discussing, and writing. As a result of our efforts students should learn to present their ideas, both orally and in writing, in a clear and precise manner.
HIS-200 B begins with a critical examination on the evolution of historical writing of Black culture. It then proceeds with a critical examination of Black/White relations in the United States at the intersections of race, class, gender, and culture from the Abolition Era to the Black Lives Matter Movement. While the readings will provide critical insight into the organic formation of institutional racism and structural inequality, adequate attention will be directed towards social, political, and economic responses exhibited by African Americans to overcome oppression during the long freedom struggle. The course will also provide historical, socio-political, socio-economic, and socio-cultural contexts as analytical tools to aid student analyses of major themes, questions and problems presented within the literature. Students will also be encouraged to find links between the past and the present.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings
W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folks
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Sam Kelly, Thruway Diaries
Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Melba Beals, Warriors Don’t Cry
Mary Frances Berry, My Face Is Black Is True
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This course provides an introduction to the political experiences and public policies that have significantly shaped, and continue to shape, the social and political life of African Americans and the urban environment. While the course will explore historical themes, it will be mostly contemporary in its temporal focus. Topics will include African American political thought, leadership, and black political economy. We will explore voting, participation, party politics, and elective office: i.e. legislative and executive. Additional topics will explore challenges within housing and labor markets as well as issues of gender, class, and sexual identity at the intersections of black politics. Finally, we will explore the role of race, drug policy, and criminal justice.
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Undergraduate students interested in studying the dynamics of the American criminal justice system and its often tense relationship with communities of color, i.e. African Americans and Latinos. Attention will be given to the ways in which the history of race, urban society, anti-crime agendas, and political economy intersect with identity, i.e. race, class, and gender, as lens for analyzing institutional culture and the work of police violence as they pertain to communities of color.
This course will mostly be a multi-disciplinary examination on the dynamics of the American Criminal Justice system at the local, state , and federal levels. We will examine historical and contemporary studies that provide arguments about the connections between race, class, gender, poverty, urban communities, and the criminal justice system. More specifically, our readings and discussions will provide perspectives through which to understand not only how and why acts of police violence, questionable court proceedings, and unjust sentences routinely take place, but also why and how they are often sanctioned by society at large. What historical and contemporary circumstances explain, and are necessarily connected to, the acquittal or lack of charges of the officers involved in the killings of Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddy Gray, and so many others? What historical and contemporary circumstances explain the re-occurrence of police violence against communities of color? Such questions suggests recurring patterns that point to ways in which society and its institutions (re)produce representations and practices that often take race, age, class, and gender as markers of expected civic and/or criminal behavior.
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Audience and Course Description
Undergraduate students interested in studying African history, relations between African societies and peoples as well as the global system of international relations from post-colonial Africa to the present will find this course interesting and challenging. In addition to the aforementioned arch of history we will explore the following key topics, or questions, which shall occupy the first four weeks of class: What is African International Relations?; Gender and International Relations; Eurocentrism, Racism, and International Relations; Governance and International Relations in Pre-colonial Africa, Colonial Dynamics, and the Legacy of Colonialism. These provide analytical context for understanding African de-colonialization and international relations. Core themes covered in the remainder of the class include the politics of post-independence, international alignments, the causes and effects of authoritarian rule, and Africa’s role in the global political economy. The course raises questions about the implications of the international community, to include the United States, and the shaping of Africa’s past. It continues with a careful consideration of pressing current issues on the African continent, including state failure, the war on terror, U.S. foreign policy regarding Africa, and China’s growing economic and political footprint. Finally, the course ends with a central question: “Is Africa rising?”
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This interdisciplinary history seminar examines the colonial and postcolonial experiences of North Africa in the context of the region’s close connections to Europe, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Readings will cover Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya as well as their relationships to the history of French, Italian and Spanish colonialism. While the period of sustained European imperial control over North Africa began as early as 1830 in Algeria and as late as 1911-12 in Libya and Morocco, decolonization was almost complete in the region by the early 1960s. Throughout the semester, we will test the thesis that this “colonial moment” had far-reaching implications not only for postcolonial North African societies, but also for the European countries that imposed colonial rule. We will also explore the inter-connectedness of economic, political, and cultural phenomena in North African history, e.g., the implications of labor migration for musical culture, and the interplay of religion and language in the construction of national identities. Finally, we will consider the ways in which portrayals of history and culture have been politically charged and hotly contested in both colonial and postcolonial contexts.
Please note the following two points. First, this class is not a typical survey of North African history but rather concentrates on historical issues in and approaches to North African studies. It is intended for students who already have some general background in modern Middle Eastern or African history. Second, this class will not cover Egypt.
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This interdisciplinary course is dedicated to critical examination of Black political leadership and policy setting, i.e. how Black leaders and organizations catalyze movements that set, or attempt to set, the public agenda across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It does so by focusing on the theory and practice of the political behavior of individuals and institutions contextualized by the constraints and opportunities presented by national politics. We operate from the thesis that African Americans have sought to influence the process of national agenda setting. That influence would eventually lead to the acquisition of public goods which would improve the general condition of the “Black community.” Our approach begins with agenda setting and moves to a review of the various periods of Black political development. We then examine more closely Black political leadership in a number of various settings and historical periods.
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This seminar examines complex dynamics of Black transnationalism by focusing on the global visions; transnational activities; and transracial political alliances of African descendant peoples within the diaspora. While the course highlights key writings, speeches, and transoceanic travels of a diverse group of men and women, it also re-positions Black women from the periphery to the center of the history of Black transnationalism. Additionally, this seminar seeks to examine various expressions and interpretations of Black transnationalism within the United States and globally from the eighteenth century to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the late twentieth century. As we move through the course we will engage two key questions: first how was Black women’s engagement in transnationalism similar to or different from that of their male counterparts?; and second to what degree did Black women integrate transnationalism with issues connected to women’s rights and/or feminist political concerns?
This is an interdisciplinary course. As such we will engage both primary and secondary sources that on one hand seeks to stimulate class discussion around key theoretical issues in the social sciences and humanities associated with the notion of Black transnationalism, e.g. diaspora, Pan-Africanism, globality, trans-localism, identity construction, articulation, and international solidarity and on the other reflects the global geographic dimensions of the African Diaspora, including Africa, the Americas, and Europe.