HISTORY 197 - First-Year Seminar in the Humanities
Section: 003 West Africans, Slavery, and the Making of the Atlantic World, 1441-1888
Term: WN 2013
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
Credits:
3
Requirements & Distribution:
HU
Other:
FYSem
Waitlist Capacity:
20
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
Repeatability:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course examines the ways that African political cultures and enslaved Black aspirations for freedom came together to help shape the Atlantic World. While slaves’ struggles for freedom and autonomy clearly mitigated slaveholders control over their bodies, the effects of such struggles on political developments in the Americas are often unknown, ignored, or misunderstood. Enslavement and forced migration obviously changed the lives of those Africans who crossed the Atlantic, but until recently the impact that those Africans had in shaping the new world was less clear. Recent scholarship has established what should have been obvious: that African peoples played critical roles in shaping economic, political, and cultural life in the new world. But to what extent did their new world activities correspond to African models? Can we speak of new world events and processes as pieces of African history? How did African ideas inform negotiations with slaveholders for personal and cultural autonomy, or basic living and working conditions? What impact did African notions of justice and good government have upon the Haitian Revolution, the Stono Rebellion, or the development of communities of escaped slaves in Jamaica or Brazil?

It is clear that European religious traditions — such as Puritan Protestantism and Catholicism — played major roles in shaping Atlantic societies. But did African religious beliefs and practices — traditionalist, Christian, and Islamic — shape new world values in analogous ways? Religious ideas were important components of political culture throughout early-modern Africa, but how did the very experience of the slave trade in Atlantic Africa continent transform those values over time?

A focus on such questions permits us to engage the historical legacies that enslaved Africans brought to the new world, especially their notions of justice, social health, and good government, while also allowing us to see how Atlantic dynamics reshaped those legacies. Ideas about moral and social order, politics, and freedom in West Africa were irrevocably transformed by centuries of engagement with the Atlantic slave trade. As African ideas were transformed, enslaved people brought evolving ideas to their new world homes.

At the same time, new world-born Blacks such as David Walker and Toussaint l’Ouverture engaged with complex legacies of African and European social and political thought, forcefully putting Africans and their descendants center-stage. In this course, we will learn that Africans brought more than toil to the development of the new world. They brought evolving ideas, beliefs, and practices that profoundly impacted the emergence of American societies.

Course Requirements:

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HISTORY 197 - First-Year Seminar in the Humanities
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
P
11816
Open
3
4Y1
-
Tu 10:00AM - 1:00PM
002 (SEM)
P
21939
Open
6
7Y1
-
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
003 (SEM)
P
26329
Open
4
4Y1
-
Th 1:00PM - 4:00PM
004 (SEM)
P
28390
Open
5
8Y1
-
Tu 3:00PM - 6:00PM
005 (SEM)
P
28391
Closed
Wolv. Access
1Y1
-
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.
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