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Seminar Reading and Questions

Seminar A: Introduction

  • Explain the paradigm shifts within the study of African history that have taken place over the past five decades.
  • Was Trevor-Roper correct to assert that African history was the analysis of ‘the unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes’?
Robert Kaplan, ‘The Coming Anarchy: How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, Tribalism, and Disease are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet’, The Atlantic Monthly, February 1994 – available online at anarchy Binyavanga Wainaina, ‘How to Write About Africa’, Granta, Winter 2005 – available online at AllPages

Seminar B: Eastern Africa before Colonialism

  • Discuss the significance of slavery to the Eastern African region.
  • Explain the strength of statecraft in present-day Uganda during the period prior to colonial rule.
  • To what extent was Eastern Africa integrated into an Indian Ocean world?
Richard Waller, ‘Ecology, Migration, and Expansion in East Africa’, African Affairs, 84, 336 (1985), pp.347-70. Either: Richard Burton, Zanzibar: City, Island, and Coast (Tinsley Brothers, London: 1872) – electronic version available online through library catalogue. OR Hamed bin Muhammed el Murjebi (aka Tippu Tip), Maisha ya Hamed bin Muhammed el Murjebi, trans. W.H. Whiteley, supplement to East African Swahili Committee Journals, 28, 2 & 29, 1 (1958/9) – copy to be provided.

Seminar C: Scramble or Conquest?

  • Which is a more accurate description of the establishment of European rule in Eastern Africa; scramble or conquest?
  • Explore the impact of the establishment of European rule upon African communities.
John Lonsdale, ‘The European Scramble and Conquest in African History’, in R. Oliver & G.N. Sanderson (eds.), The Cambridge History of Africa: Volume 6 From 1870-1905 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 1985). Either: Jeffrey Fadiman, When We Began There Were Witchmen: An Oral History From Mount Kenya (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1994), chapter 5 & 6. OR Richard Meinertzhagen, Kenya Diary (1902-1906) (various editions).

Seminar D: Ethnicity

  • To what extent were ethnicities invented during the colonial period?
  • Using a specific example, explain the changing nature of ethnicity over the duration of the period examined by this course.
Bruce Berman, “A Palimpsest of Contradictions’: Ethnicity, Class, and Politics in Africa’, International Journal of African Historical Studies, 37, 1 (2004), pp.13-31. Either: Terence Ranger, ‘The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa’, in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1983), pp.211-62. OR Thomas Spear, ‘Neo-Traditionalism and the Limits of Invention in British Colonial Africa’, Journal of African History, 44, 1 (2003), pp.3-27.

Seminar E: The Civilising Mission?

  • What was the civilising mission?
  • Why did missionary-led attempts in Kenya to restrict the practice of clitoridectomy cause such controversy?
Tabitha Kanogo, African Womanhood in Colonial Kenya 1900-50 (James Currey, Oxford: 2005), chapter 3. Either: Jomo Kenyatta, Facing Mount Kenya (Vintage, New York: 1965), chapter 6. OR National Archives, Public Record Office CO 533/392/10, ‘Operation on Kikuyu Girl (Circumcision), 1929 – file available at Empire Online (make sure you use the correct document as there are several with similar titles).

Seminar F: Settlers, Race and Empire
  • Is ‘parasites in paradise’ an accurate description of settler relations with indigenous communities in Eastern Africa?
  • Did the nature of colonialism in states without sizeable settler populations differ from that in Kenya?

Out of Africa to be shown to whole class at some point in this week. The film will then be discussed in the seminar groups. In preparation for the class please read: David Anderson, Histories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of the Empire (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London: 2005), pp.77-86 and sufficient reading from listed under the ‘Settler Colonialism’ lecture so as to be able to discuss the film and its representation of colonial Kenya.

Seminar G: Visit to Modern Record Centre

 Seminar H: Late-Colonialism and its Legacies

  • To what extent should we understand post-independence political debate as post-colonial?
  • Explain the collapse of the first generation of multi-party systems after independence.
  • What effects have structural adjustment programmes had on political and social life in Eastern Africa?

Crawford Young, The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective (Yale University Press, New Haven: 1994), chapter 8. Either: Daniel Branch & Nicholas Cheeseman, ‘The Politics of Control in Kenya: Understanding the Bureaucratic-Executive State, 1952-78’, Review of African Political Economy, 33, 107 (2006), pp.11-31. OR Leander Schneider, ‘Colonial Legacies and Postcolonial Authoritarianism in Tanzania: Connects and Disconnects’, African Studies Review, 49, 1 (2006), pp.93-118.

Seminar I: Nationalism

  • What is nationalism?
  • To what extent should we understand late-colonial politics as nationalist?
Bruce Berman, ‘Ethnicity, Patronage and the African State: The Politics of Uncivil Nationalism’, African Affairs, 97, 388 (1998), pp.305-41. Either: The National Archives, Public Record Office, PREM 11/2583 ‘British Colonial Policy in Africa’, 1958-9 – available through Empire Online. OR James Coleman, ‘Nationalism in Tropical Africa’, American Political Science Review, 48, 2 (1954), pp.404-426 & in James Coleman, Nationalism and Development in Africa: Selected Essays, ed. Richard Sklar (University of California Press, Berkeley: 1994). Seminar J: Development

  • Did Europe ‘under-develop’ Africa?
  • Is Young correct to assume development was supplanted by kleptocracy as the guiding principle of statecraft?
Crawford Young, ‘The End of the Post-Colonial State in Africa?: Reflections on Changing African Political Dynamics’, African Affairs, 103, 410 (2004), pp.23-49. Frederick Cooper, Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 2002), chapter 7.