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Week 3: Area Studies & Global History

This week's session builds on the previous weeks' consideration of what is (and isn't) Global History. Taking Africa as our (wide) focus, we'll look at two very different approaches to the study of the past to better appreciate some of the benefits and risks of Global History. African History, as practiced in universities in Europe, North America and Africa, has been dominated by an area studies approach. We'll explore what "area studies" means, why it became the predominant approach to the study of the non-European World over the past 50 years or so, and which of its limitations Global History promises to address. We'll then turn to thinking about what inclusion of African subjects into Global History does to our understanding of the past.

Seminar questions:

1. How does an area studies approach to history differ from that practiced by a global historian?

2. What aspects of the critiques of African Studies in the reading could apply to global history?

3. What is the place of African peoples and societies within global history?

4. What would global history written from the perspective of African peoples and societies look like?

Required reading

Adomako Ampofo, Akosua. "Re-viewing Studies on Africa, #Black Lives Matter, and Envisioning the Future of African Studies." African Studies Review, 59(2), 2016, pp. 7-29.

Arowosegbe, Jeremiah. "African Scholars, African Studies and Knowledge Production on Africa." Africa, 86(2), 2016, pp.324-338.

Frederick Cooper, "What is the Concept of Globalization Good For? An African Historian's Perspective." African Affairs, 100 (399), 2001, pp. 189–213.

Further reading

Allman, Jean. “Kwame Nkrumah, African Studies, and the Politics of Knowledge Production in the Black Star of Africa.” The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 46 (2), 2013, pp. 181–203.

Bayart, Jean-François, and Stephen Ellis. “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion.” African Affairs, 99 (395), 2000, pp. 217–67.

Inikori, Joseph. "Africa and the globalization process: Western Africa, 1450–1850." Journal of Global History, 2(1), 2007,pp. 63-86.

Mazrui, Ali. "Global Africa: From Abolitionists To Reparationists." African Studies Review, 37(3), 1994, 1-18.

Mbeme, Achille. “Africa in the New Century.” The Massachusetts Review, 57 (1), 2016, pp. 91–111.

Tilley, Helen. “Global Histories, Vernacular Science, and African Genealogies; or, Is the History of Science Ready for the World?” Isis, 101 (1), 2010, pp. 110–19.

Paul Tiyambe Zeleza. "The Politics of Historical and Social Science Research in Africa." Journal of Southern African Studies, 28 (1), 2002, pp. 9-23,