Questioning the Nation-State in Colonial and Post-Colonial Worlds

History 101.014

Spring 2012
Instructor (text): 
Sarah Zimmerman
2231 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
MW 12-2P
<p>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&#39; 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.</p>

This thesis seminar welcomes all who are interested in internationalism and asymmetrical power. I am an Africanist historian whose research focuses on militarized West African intermediaries in colonial regimes. I do not expect all who enroll to be Africanists-in-the-making. Instead, I hope students' projects will tackle problems related to trans-nationality, colonial empires, migration, international labor regimes, integration, international interventions, aid, or pandemics. I especially welcome thesis projects interested in historicizing disadvantaged peoples' negotiation of asymmetrical power relationships within international political and economic regimes. Please note, in my mind "colonial" designates an uneven power relationship caused by foreign presence. Europe did not have the monopoly on colonialism, though that continent's empires are the most studied. At the beginning of the semester, we will read and discuss secondary and primary literatures that debate the formation and utility of nation-states as a model for the contemporary international system. We will also read historical and theoretical work point to the problems with nations, ethnicity, and other facets of identity. After roughly the fifth week, we will meet less frequently to peer review and discuss progress in students' thesis projects. It is highly suggested that you come into this course with a developed research question. It would also be to your advantage to conduct a bit of online reconnaissance in the Hoover Archives, Bancroft Archives, and the Cal Library in order to see what primary sources are available in the Bay Area regarding your research interests. I encourage you to visit me in office hours during the Fall Semester and I would be happy to give recommendations so that you may get a jump on your project during Winter Recess.