HIAF 2001 is an introductory course to the history of Africa from roughly the dawn of history until the end of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Over sixteen weeks we will proceed chronologically by region, learning about the great diversity of peoples, cultures, and climates that inhabit the African continent. In this course we will learn that Africa was never the “dark continent” that it is often supposed to be. A major focus of the course will be Africa’s engagement with the outside world, including the trans-Saharan trade, Swahili city-states and the Indian Ocean, and Trans-Atlantic trade. We will see how Africans have always been important historical actors in world history, exploring how they interacted with their neighbors in ways that made sense to them and their communities.
Course material will be presented through interactive lectures and in-class discussion as well as in depth examination of primary and secondary historical courses, art and material culture. Evaluation will be based on class participation and a series of take-home writing assignments geared towards helping students develop their critical thinking, reading, and writing faculties. No prior knowledge of African history is required.