Global Africa: Theories and Cultures of Diaspora


Changes in migration patterns, immigration laws, and refugee policies have meant that Africans are living and working in unexpected places. Studies of the African diaspora used to focus on the dispersion of Africans as a result of the trans-Saharan, transatlantic, and Indian Ocean slave trades. More recent scholarship has focused on new African diasporas: Senegambians in Harlem, Ghanaians in Germany, Nigerians in Japan. These modern day dispersals, powered in part by the forces of globalization, demand new levels of analysis by scholars. People of African descent have made lasting contributions to the societies where they now live. Unfortunately, because their positions have historically been defined by racism and servile status, these contributions have often been appropriated, stolen, or ignored. The goal of this class is to bring the contributions of African migrants to the forefront of intellectual discourse. We will attempt to answer the questions: What constitutes the contours of the African diaspora? How have African migration patterns changed over time? What role has class, ethnicity, gender, religion, and race played in notions of return or exile? Although this is primarily a history class, we will make use of geography, sociology, anthropology, autobiography, literature, film, and music as sources. By the end of the semester, students will have a clearer understanding of how present-day African immigration patterns fit into a larger history of voluntary, involuntary, and forced migration.