202: Unit 2
Peoples and Cultures of the Modern World, Fall 2014
Unit 2: The Study of History and the Colonization of Africa
5. The Origins and Methods of History and the Social Sciences
READ: Peter N. Stearns, "Why Study History?"; John Lewis Gaddis, "Structure and Process"; Sam Wineburg, "Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts"
What does Stearns mean when he writes that history "contributes to moral understanding"? Do you agree? How does history "provide identity"? Why does history help students develop "the ability to assess conflicting interpretations"? How does history "harbor beauty"? What does Gaddis mean by "structure" and "process"? How does he explain the similarities and differences between history and the sciences?
6. The Colonization of Africa: From Exploration to Invasion
READ: Basil Davidson, "Conquest and Colonial Rule" (pp. 281-294); Rudyard Kipling, "The White Man's Burden," 1899; Reading Quiz #1
What motivated European exploration of Africa? Why did exploration turn into invasion? How did European countries differ from each other in their approach to colonization? To what extent was colonization profitable for the Europeans? What is the "White Man's Burden"?
7. The Colonization of Africa: Drawing the Line
READ: John Reader, "Drawing the Line"; Jules Ferry, "On French Colonial Expansion"; Joseph Chamberlin, "The True Conception of Empire; Handout on The Berlin Conference.
What are some of the problems with the way borders between African countries were drawn? How do historical factors explain the geography of the Kenya/Tanzania and Senegal/Gambia borders? Why does Reader argue that railways "accelerated the fragmentation of Africa"? Do you agree? Why did European leaders rush to partition Africa among themselves even though many believed that Africa was not "worth having"? How do the primary sources complicate the discussion of colonization?
8. Resistance to Colonialism
READ: John Reader, "Resistance"
F. D. Lugard, "The Rise of Our East African Empire"
Review the various factors that, according to John Reader, explain why poorly supplied European colonists were able to take over a continent. Which of these factors strike you as most important? Why? Why was Ethiopia "the only African state that successfully resisted European colonization"? What does the piece by Lugard add to your understanding of the reasons why Europe decided to colonize Africa? How does Lugard view Africans? Why does he believe that the colonist "must, above all things, be a gentleman"—and what does he mean by that?
Map of Colonialism- Quiz #2
9. The Colonization of Africa: Assessment
READ: Basil Davidson, "Gain or Loss" and "A Crisis Unresolved"
Do you agree with Davidson's assertion "there was, very clearly, a great need for the 'modern' reconstruction of African life and thought"? Why or why not? Do you agree that African traditional systems were "weak"? Did colonization have any positive impacts on Africa? Is the European colonization of Africa justifiable?
10. Writing Workshop
11. Essay Due
12. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Chapter 1-3
You are responsible for reading about 25 pages in the book every night before class meetings 12-18, until we are done. We will discuss the novel some days and have some different classroom activities on others, TBA.
As you read the first few chapters, consider the following: "Things Fall Apart is also a novel rich in anthropological detail. In many ways, it can be read as an anthropological description of the daily life and customs of the Igbo people because Achebe blends his description of Okonkwo's tragedy with a richly detailed description of Igbo culture before European colonization." Make note of details in the novel that provide insight into the ways of life of the Igbo people? Does this society seem to support the colonizers' view of Africans as primitive savages, or the views of people like Jared Diamond who see pre-modern peoples in as in many ways better off than moderns like us? How is the world view of the characters in the book different than that of modern westerners?
13. Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Chapters 4-6
Wondering how to pronounce some of the Igbo words (including Igbo) in the book? Try this link. Is Okonkwo typical--an Igbo everyman? Look for evidence of whether or not he seems to conform to the norm. Pay attention to the gender and the lives of men and women in the novel.
"The last four or five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and Africans in very lurid terms. The reason for this had to do with the need to justify the slave trade and slavery. … This continued until the Africans themselves, in the middle of the twentieth century, took into their own hands the telling of their story." (Chinua Achebe, "An African Voice", The Atlantic) What light does the reading put Africa and Africans in? Identify some elements of Igbo culture that seem exotic or puzzling. Identify ones that seem familiar or appealing.
14. Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Chapter 7-10
As you think about the above quote and the question that follows (What light does the reading put Africa and Africans in?) consider some of the events in chapters 7-10: Nwoye's coming of age; men's work; locust feast; Ikemefuna; Ogbuefi Ezeudu's advice; twins; Ezinma; Akueke's bride-price; eggs; ogbanje; Evil Forest; iyi-uwa, egwugwu. Achebe wrote: "When the Igbo encounter human conflict, their first impulse is not to determine who is right but quickly to restore harmony."
15. Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Chapter 11-13
What is the moral of the story of the tortoise and the birds? What do we learn about Okonkwo and Igbo family life in the episode involving Ezinma and Chielo? What is the significance of Ezeudu's death and the accident that happens at his funeral?
16. Continue reading Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Chapter 14-17
Discussion of the first essay.
In part 2 of the book so far, what argument is Achebe making about European Colonization of Africa? How did it happen and what was its impact? Is this progress?
17. Achebe, Things Fall Apart, chapter 18-21
Keep paying attention to the process by which the British colonized the Igbo. What comment is Achebe making about this process? Why did Ogbefi Ugonna join the Christians?
18. Achebe, Things Fall Apart 22-end
What is the significance of the title of the book, and the epigraph? How is Mr. Smith different from Mr. Brown? Whose approach to colonization is more effective? Is there a significance to their names? What is the significance of the killing of the sacred python? Pay attention to miscommunications between the English and the Igbo. Read the last sentence of the book. How do you think the District Commissioner's account of Okonkwo's life will be different than Achebe's?
19. Writing Workshop