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The Zamani Reader

On West Africa, Britain, and the West Indies in the Eighteenth Century

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2019

Lecture for HIS 115A (Week Seven) — An Overview of Diaspora Tourism in Ghana

Dear readers,

I have posted below a lecture I wrote for week seven of my West African History course. The lecture is designed to take about 1 hour to deliver. It is about the subject of diaspora tourism in Ghana from the 1950s to the present.

This lecture is the first part of a two-part series that explores the rise of diaspora tourism in Ghana since the time of Kwame Nkrumah in the 1950s, and especially since the 1990s, when the Ghanaian government, under then president Jerry Rawlings, began a national campaign of diaspora tourism. This campaign was based on the so-called “Slave Castles” or “Slave Forts” of Elmina and Cape Coast. This lecture is intended to explore the context behind Ghana’s embrace of diaspora tourism. It traces that context to social and political upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, we cover African decolonization, the rise of African History as an academic discipline, Transatlantic Civil Rights Movements, and the growth of Pan-Africanism. The lecture traces Ghana’s history of making overtures to diaspora communities, particularly African-Americans, from the 1950s to the present. We talk about how diaspora tourism in Ghana has been shaped by this audience–what African-American expatriates and tourism have demanded of this industry and how the Ghanaian government has attempted to meet and manage these demands.

This lecture sets up the second part of the series. In this part, we have a seminar on the question of how Ghanaians have responded to the rise of this diaspora tourism industry. The starting point for our discussion is the work of the anthropologist and historian Bayo Holsey. We read chapter 7 of her 2008 book Routes of Remembrace. The chapter is called “Navigating New Histories.” In it, Holsey draws upon an eight-year period of research in Ghana to “discuss reactions of Ghanaians who have been exposed to diaspora tourism to both the slave trade and to the notion of a transnational black community.” Her findings further highlight the complications and nuances of diaspora tourism in Ghana.

Enjoy!

Lecture 6 — Overview of Diaspora Tourism in Ghana (T, 2-19)

Lecture 6 — Overview of Diaspora Tourism in Ghana, with notes (T, 2-19)

Lecture for HIS 115A (Week Six) — An Overview of Dahomey, Benin, and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Dear readers,

I have posted below a lecture I wrote for week six of my West African History course. The lecture is designed to take about 30 minutes to deliver. It is about the Kingdom of Dahomey in the precolonial period and the nation of Benin’s embrace of Transatlantic Slave Trade tourism in the modern era.

This lecture sets up a primary source lab that takes place immediately afterward. In this lab, students get into small groups and investigate copies of the Whydah Day Books from The National Archives in Kew, England. These are bi-monthly account books that record the activities of the English governor and factor resident at William’s Fort. Not only do these books show the activities of these administrators from the African Company of Merchants, but they provide insight into the lives of the Africans who interacted with the fort. This includes the so-called “Castle” or “Company Slaves,” the Dahomean linguist, the viceroy, the caboceers, and the king. The day books we are looking at date to the middle of the eighteenth century. The lecture is also designed to set up our seminar discussion on Thursday. We will participate in a large-group discussion about two articles. One is by Robin Law; it is called “Dahomey and the Slave Trade;” and it came out in The Journal of African History in 1986. It covers the historiography of Dahomey and discusses how that literature developed in tandem with contemporary debates about the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The second piece is by Ana Lucia Araujo; it is called “Welcome the Diaspora;” and it came out in Ethnologies in 2010. It explores the nation of Benin’s embrace of diaspora tourism since the 1990s. In discussing the Route of Slaves in Ouidah, it draws particular attention to the question of how peoples’ memory of the Transatlantic Slave Trade must share public space with other expressions of history and cultural heritage.

Enjoy!

Lecture 5 — Overview of the TAST in Dahomey (T, 2-12)

Lecture 5 — Overview of the TAST in Dahomey, with notes (T, 2-12)

Lecture for HIS 115A (Week Five) — An Overview of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Sierra Leone

Dear readers,

I have posted below a lecture I wrote for week five of my West African History course. The lecture is designed to take about 35 minutes to deliver. It sets up a primary source lab that takes place immediately afterward. In this lab, students get into small groups and investigate the introduction to Sigismund Wilhelm Koelle’s Polyglotta Africana. Koelle was a German missionary who traveled to the British Crown Colony of Sierra Leone and conducted a study of West African languages in 1854. Sierra Leone was the perfect place for Koelle to conduct his study because it was the site of Britain’s efforts to colonize “recaptive” or “liberated” Africans from Spanish and Portuguese slave ships on the west coast of the continent. In the 1800s, the British navy resettled people from all over West Africa and the greater British Empire in Sierra Leone. Once there, they began forming a new “ethnicity” known as the Krio. In the process of gathering and classifying information about the languages that contributed to this “ethnicity,” Koelle documented the stories of what he called his “informants.” In particular, he wrote about where they came from and how they entered the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Their stories are of primary interest to us as students of the trade. In addition to setting up the lab activity, the lecture also foreshadows a film we will watch on Thursday. The film is called Ghosts of Amistad, and it documents the efforts of researchers from the United States to trace the history of Mende warriors, like Sengbe Pieh, from the Gallinas coast in southern Sierra Leone. These warriors drew on the foundations of a male secret society, called the Poro, to stage a fight for their freedom in the Caribbean.

Enjoy!

Week 5 Lecture — Overview of the TAST in Sierra Leone (T, 2-5)

Week 5 Lecture — Overview of the TAST in Sierra Leone, with notes (T, 2-5)

Draft Program Released for the 2019 ACH Conference in Curaçao

Dear readers,

This weekend the conference committee for the Association of Caribbean Historians (ACH) released a draft of their program for the 51st Annual Conference. The conference will take place in Curaçao from Sunday, May 26, to Thursday, May 30. The theme is “Resistance: A View from the Margins.” I will be presenting a paper on Thursday, May 30, as part of “Panel #13: Documenting Caribbean Cultures.” This panel will also feature presentations by Drs. Emiel Martens, Orpheo Donk, and Rose Mary Allen. My paper will introduce a primary source that I discovered in the archives of the British Library in the summer of 2017. The core of this primary source is the lengthiest set of musical notations that have survived from the early-modern period and that were composed by enslaved people. I am currently collaborating with the Early Caribbean Digital Archive (ECDA) to create an online exhibit for sharing these notations with the public. That exhibit should be completed by the time of the conference, so that I can use it during my presentation. I posted a link to the current draft of the ACH conference program below, as well as a link to the ECDA. Enjoy!

2019 ACH Conference Program

Early Caribbean Digital Archive

Seeking Presenters for a Panel at the 2019 African Studies Association (ASA) Annual Conference

Dear readers,

The African Studies Association (ASA) has released their call for papers for this year’s annual conference. The conference theme is “Being, Belonging, and Becoming in Africa,” and it will take place in Boston from Wednesday, 20 November to Sunday, 24 November. See the link below for information about the meeting on the ASA’s website. This year, I am interested in proposing a panel that interrogates how and why people have chosen to write African History throughout time. I will present a paper on the writing of African History in the precolonial period, and I am looking for presenters who are interested in talking about the colonial and precolonial periods. The papers may offer general context on the writing of African History during these periods, or they might offer a specific case study that shows how and why people turned to writing African History. If you are interested in being a part of this panel, and you think that your work fits nicely with the panel’s goals, please send me a message and let me know. I would love to talk with you about whether we can make this happen. The deadline for panel submissions is March 15. All other information related to the conference can be found on the ASA’s website.

Thanks!

Link to the ASA Website’s Information on Annual Meetings

Lecture for HIS 115A (Week One) — An Introduction to West Africa and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Dear readers,

This quarter I am posting lectures for my new class, “HIS 115A: West African History, the History and Memory of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.” This allows anyone who wants to follow along with the lecture component of the class to do easily. It is also helpful for me because it creates an online archive of my lecture materials that I can easily access from a computer without a USB or external hard-drive. The lecture posted below is my longest lecture of the course. It is my introductory lecture on Africa and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It is meant to give students some basic facts, themes, and context concerning the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its history in Africa. The information is designed as a way to set students up for their research papers. Each student must write a research paper on a specific region of West Africa during the era of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and they must select their paper topics by the end of this week.  I gave this lecture to the class on Thursday, 10 January.  I have posted it below in two formats, with and without notes.

Thanks. Enjoy!

lecture 1 — introduction to the study of the tast in africa (r, 1-10)

lecture 1 — introduction to the study of the tast in africa (r, 1-10, with notes)

HIS 115A Starting Up This Week — Lecture Introducing Myself and the Class

Dear readers,

Winter Quarter at UC Davis begins next week! This means that I am starting to teach my new class, “HIS 115A: West African History, the History and Memory of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.” I have decided to post all of my PowerPoint presentations here on TZR for anyone who would like to follow along with the lecture component of the course. This is also helpful for me because it creates an online archive of my lecture materials that I can easily access from a computer without a USB or external hard-drive. I am giving the short lecture below at our first meeting on Tuesday, January 8. I wrote this lecture at the suggestion of my friend, who thought that it would be a good idea to devote some time on the first day to introducing myself to the students. This presentation is meant to give students some background on why I became interested in the history of Atlantic Africa, why I decided to design and teach this course on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and how my current research in the PhD program at UC Davis intersects with my pedagogy. I have posted the lecture in two formats, with and without my notes.

Thanks. Enjoy!

introducing myself and the class (1-8)

introducing myself and the class (with notes, 1-8)

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