The underlying theme of this course is human movement. Historically, the African continent has been stigmatized as a place where, until European intervention, African peoples remained in a primordial, ";barbaric"; state. Some of these stereotypes continue to exist, which is why African societies are all too often construed as antithetical to modernity, which need to be ";developed";. Through topical, theoretical, and narrative lectures, this course will explore evolutions in African societies through African migrations. Some of these migrations were voluntary and others were forced. Some were a result of climatic, epidemic, or violent occurrences, whereas others occurred due to complex and systemic foreign interventions in the continent.
In studying social development and human movement on the African continent, we will analyze the reasons for, and results of, major migrations from early man's expansion out of the continent to contemporary labor diasporas, in which Africans seek work on other continents. Between these ancient and modern migrations, we will also address the Bantu Migrations, Arab expansion onto the continent, various trading networks heavily reliant on human commodities, the development of early African states, transhumance, trading diasporas, urbanization, colonial resettlement, major political and religious conflicts, brain drain, genocide and refugees. In addition to studying movement and migration, we will also examine major theoretical concerns related to migrations. We will discuss and address how diasporic and resettled peoples imagine a homeland or their origins. Borders, citizenship, and integration are also important topics that will emerge throughout the semester. This will inevitably push us to speak to social inequality, poverty, racism, and human rights. Throughout the course, we will also question the development of states and their exclusionary practices, as well as the partitioning of the international labor market.
Sarah Zimmerman recently completed her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley. She specializes in West African and French colonial history, and has a growing interest in African women and migration. Her dissertation explores West African colonial soldiers' contribution to the construction, maintenance, and defense of twentieth century French empire. In researching and writing her dissertation, Sarah became interested in colonial institutions and the ways in which West African soldiers and their female companions grappled with these institutions, and in particular how the female companions of the tirailleurs senegalais became indirect clients of the French colonial state.