History 256 (101) History of Africa




Course Level



An introduction to the long arc of African history, from early times to recent times. Given the diversity of the continent and its deep past, we will use a sampling of historical episodes to explore alternative methods of doing history and different ways of thinking about what history is. Students will become familiar with how historians have made use of archeology, historical linguistics, material culture, art, photography, works of fiction, oral traditions, and personal interviews. They will engage with some of the principal themes of African historiography, such as the question of “civilization”, the impacts of the transatlantic slave trade, the nature of resistance in the colonial era, and the challenges of post-independence state-making. Students will also begin to wield the foundational tools of historical practice for themselves – including evidence analysis, library and research skills, and writing. During a unit dedicated to historical and ethnographic museums (such as the UBC Museum of Anthropology) students will also address issues related to engaging a wider public in African history.