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HIS 269 Peoples and Cultures of Africa

This course provides an introductory survey of Sub-Saharan African peoples and cultures. Through lectures, reading, films and discussions, we will explore Africa's rich and diverse pre-colonial past paying particular attention to how we view Africa and its people, and the ways in which European, American, and African scholars have debated the very meaning of 'Africa'. We will examine topics such as: Western narratives of Africa and African peoples; indigenous African empires and states; ecological and political aspects of Africans foragers (hunter-gatherers); the interface between human activities and the environment; philosophy, religion and witchcraft; how European colonialism affected and was affected by African cultures; the construction of cultural/ethnic identities; current cultural practices, including female circumcision, and female ritual servitude. Finally, we will seek to challenge European depictions of Africa as the 'dark continent' by showing that African cultures were and still are important and valuable ones in their own right, and at the same time try to understand Africa's role in world history. Fulfills diversity requirement. (L03)