History Department Online Courses

ISS 330A – African History, Culture, and Society

Taught by Dr. Nwando Achebe

-ISS 330A:  African History, Culture, and Society is a general survey of the history, culture, and society of Africa. Since it is impossible to provide in-depth coverage of so vast and diverse a continent in 7 weeks, during each lecture session, I will draw on case studies from West, East, Central, and South Africa to offer an overview that will provide a narrative of a given theme.  We will also interpret primary documents, novels, and discuss documentaries.

The course which is organized into a series of general topics arranged in a roughly chronological order will also explore the interplay between the internal as well as the external socio-economic, political, and religious forces operating in African societies slightly before and after 1500. Each week we will concern ourselves with exploring the main political, economic, religious, and social currents of Africa and how Africans have sought to adapt to and reshape external forces imposed by colonialism, Western Capitalism, Islam and Christianity.

The course presupposes no background in African History, therefore during each session I will offer a lecture and overview that will provide a historical narrative of a given African theme.  Our quest for knowledge will commence with an overview of African kingdoms and small scale societies. We will then touch on slavery, its abolition, the great scramble, and partition of Africa, colonialism in Africa, nationalism, and end with an exploration of some neocolonial realities in the new independent African states.

Our study of African History will be unearthed through an exploration of a myriad of primary and secondary sources, including: historical writings, novels, films/documentaries, and music. These documents, I am confident, will reinforce knowledge by providing regional examples that highlight specificities of African experiences.