HIST 3907A: Transnational Topic – “Black Atlantic History”
The objective of this course is to explore and engage, in detail, the histories, issues, and debates concerning the varied forces that defined and shaped the Black Atlantic World from the mid-14th century to the present. Emphasized in this course will be various historical, cultural, sociopolitical, and intellectual formations, movements, and connections crisscrossing the Atlantic. In understanding the geographic spaces framing the Atlantic littoral (Europe, Atlantic Africa, and the Americas) across five centuries, students will be expected to think broadly about historical and contemporary issues relevant to the Black Atlantic World. This class will trace the history of this transformation at two levels; first, we examine large scale historical processes including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. Furthermore, we will pay special attention to trans-Atlantic historical formations common during this period, especially the contributions of Africans and their descendants to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas, ultimately understanding enslaved people as creative (rather than reactive) agents of history. So, our questions will be: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history?
At the end of this course students should be able to formulate, compare, and elaborate the central concepts of Black Atlantic history by tracing the origins and importance of the concept of the Black Atlantic in the context of European imperial expansion, paying special attention to the historical relations that shaped community formation among people of slave ancestry in Africa and of African descent in the Americas/ Europe and laid the foundations for their political and economic institutions and positions.