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

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The TAST Series

Lecture for HIS 115A (Week Five) — 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)

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)

Lecture: Introduction to Remembering the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Africa

Dear readers, this spring I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to write a new guest lecture for HIS 15B, the second part of the survey course in African History here at UC Davis. Officially, the class is called “Africa Today: Colonization and Globalization since 1900.” The lecture that I wrote for the class is on Public Memory and Memorialization of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Please note, this is only an introduction to the topic. Also, you should notice that I did not devote any space or time to discussing the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. I have explored that history in a previous lecture, and one of my central arguments here is that the public memory of the Transatlantic Slave Trade has a history of its own, apart from the history of the trade itself.

As you may know, one of my professional goals is to teach a course on the history of slave-trade memory and memorialization in Africa and the West. With that in mind, I have taken the opportunity to develop a lecture that could serve as a foundation for that course. In keeping with the message of TZR, I have decided to make that lecture public, as well as any future lectures that I make on the Transatlantic Slave Trade, in a category called “The TAST Series.”

Thanks for reading. Enjoy!

Lecture on Remembering the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Africa (The TAST Series)

Note: The image featured in this post depicts a monument called the Door or No Return. This particular monument stands at the end of the Route of the Slaves in Ouidah, Benin. It was built as part of the Slaves Route project that began in 1994.

 

 

Course Materials for Minor in African History — HIS 116: Atlantic Africa in the Era of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Dear readers, as part of the PhD program here at UC Davis, students in their third year are required to complete a minor in an historical sub-field that is different from their major field. Since my major is officially American History, I chose to fulfill my minor in African History. Per the requirements of the program, I needed to design an undergraduate course in African History, complete with a syllabus and a justification essay explaining the choices I made in designing the class. I completed those materials last December and my minor adviser approved them shortly thereafter. Now, I would like to share those materials with you. Below I have included PDF versions of my course syllabus and justification essay for the class I created. The class is called “HIS 116: Atlantic Africa in the Era of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.” I have also included the full text of my justification essay in case you would like to read it in blog form rather than PDF. Please feel free to use these materials in your own course design if you would like.

Syllabus for HIS 116 — Minor in African History for TZR (12-15-17)

Justification Paper for HIS 116 — Minor in African History (12-15-17)


Justification Paper for HIS 116:

Atlantic Africa in the Era of the Transatlantic Slave Trade”

Introduction to the Course

The purpose of this justification paper is to explain the thought process behind my syllabus in African History. The syllabus is for a course entitled “HIS 116: Atlantic Africa in the Era of the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” and it falls under the designation of Special Themes in African History. The course is an upper-division class that is designed to meet twice a week, once on Tuesdays and once on Thursdays. Although the class is specifically designated as a lecture course, it is designed to be a hybrid of lecture and seminar. I will lecture on Tuesdays about a general topic in the history of Atlantic Africa, and then the students will engage in group discussion on Thursdays about readings which pertain to that subject. A 15-minute reading quiz will precede each discussion to ensure that students are doing the reading and to give them a chance to formulate their thoughts beforehand. Most times the discussions will take place in small groups of about 5 students and sometimes they will take place in one large group. Overall, this is a reading intensive class. On average, students will be expected to read between 150 and 200 pages each week. With the exception of a few weeks, students will be reading both secondary and primary sources for each discussion.

Objectives of the Course

For the majority of this justification paper, I am going to walk the reader through my course calendar, discussing the choices that I have made for the weekly lectures and readings. Before I do that, however, I would like to offer some general thoughts on the objectives of the class. First, the class is based on the assumption that young people in the United States today have at least a vague idea that the Transatlantic Slave Trade was integral to the development of the Americas. They may not know that roughly 12.5 million people were forcibly transported from West and West-Central Africa to the Western Hemisphere from the first decade of the sixteenth century to the third quarter of the nineteenth century, but they probably understand that enslavement formed some part of their country’s historical foundations and, thus, influenced their society’s present multiculturalism. But what about the history of Africa itself? Do young people have an equal understanding for how the Transatlantic Slave Trade affected African History? How did the trade affect Africans who did not leave the continent? How did the trade affect the history of the African societies from which enslaved persons were taken? How did it affect the history of the African societies that facilitated the slave trade? Finally, how is the trade remembered in academic discourse and popular culture? Continue reading “Course Materials for Minor in African History — HIS 116: Atlantic Africa in the Era of the Transatlantic Slave Trade”

Lecture: Introduction to the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Africa

Dear readers, this winter I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to guest lecture for HIS 15A, the first part of the survey course in African History. Officially, the class was called “Africa to 1900: States and Societies, Slavery, and the Scramble.” The class met for lecture twice a week, and the professor designed it so that each week was based around a theme. Students would receive two lectures on that theme. The first was an overview of the subject and the second was a case study. I gave the overview lecture on the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade during week 6.

As you may know, one of my professional goals is to teach a course on the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Africa. With that in mind, I took the opportunity to develop a lecture that could serve as a foundation for that course. In keeping with the message of TZR, I have decided to make that lecture public, as well as any future lectures that I make on the Transatlantic Slave Trade, in a category called “The TAST Series.”

Thanks for reading. Enjoy!

Lecture on The Transatlantic Slave Trade in Africa (The TAST Series)

Note: The image featured in this post comes from the “Introductory Maps” section of the website Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database. It is called “Map 1: Overview of the Slave Trade Out of Africa, 1500-1900.”

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