HIST 4437 Syllabus
Africana Studies offered by Central Missouri State University  
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  HIST 4437 - The African Diaspora

(Click here for a printable version of the syllabus.) 
Dr. Yvonne Johnson
Wood 136K
Office Hours: 10:00-11:00 MWF, 3:00-4:00 MW, or by appointment
Phone: 543-8680
e-mail: yjohnson@cmsu1.cmsu.edu


This course examines the global dispersal of Africans from their homeland through forced and non-forced immigration, with particular emphasis on the Trans-Saharan and Atlantic slave trades, the rise of the Atlantic Plantation Complex, the transplantation and creation of African-American cultures in North and South America, and the causes and consequences of the abolition of the slave trade.

Benjamin, Thomas, et.al. The Atlantic World in the Age of Empire. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.

Holloway, Joseph, Ed. Africanisms in American Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

Jalloh, Alusine and Maizlish, Stephen E., Eds. The African Diaspora. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1996.

Segal, Ronald. Islam’s Black Slaves. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001.

1. Read assigned textbooks.
Materials should be read by the day that they are assigned before coming to class.

2. Participate in class discussions.

3. Pass three exams.

4. Submit one research paper (Undergraduates, 10-15 pages; Graduates, 20 pages)

1. State orally or in writing the causes and effects of the development of the slave trade and the rise of the Atlantic plantation complex.

2. Make comparisons; be prepared to compare and contrast the content and the historical interpretations of the texts to be read.

3. Use critical thinking skills by analyzing and discussing selected readings and texts and analyze, interpret and draw conclusions from charts, graphs and maps.

4. Give examples of historiographical interpretations.

5. Identify and discuss key people, groups and events in Atlantic and African History.

We will use lectures, open discussions, student presentations and audiovisual materials such as maps, videos, and transparencies.


Students will be evaluated on the basis of three exams, one paper, and one presentation. Grade will be assigned on the following criteria:

1. Each exam will be worth 25% of the final course grade.

2. A grade will be assigned for a 10-15 minute class presentation of student research (5%).

3. The research paper will be worth 20% of the course grade.

Grades will be assigned on the following basis:
90 - 100
= A
80 - 89
= B
70 - 79
= C
60 - 69
= D
0 - 59
= F

RESEARCH PAPER: Undergraduate students will prepare a 10-15- page research paper. The instructor must approve research topics. Each paper must have a historiographic component describing at least two differing interpretations of the chosen topic. Books read in the course may be used for this paper, but at least 6 other sources must be consulted, including review essays, book reviews, and journal articles dealing with the topic; thus each paper must have a minimum of six sources.

GRADUATE STUDENTS: Graduate students will prepare a 15-20-page research paper, with an accompanying annotated bibliography. Each paper must have a historiographic component describing at least two differing interpretations of the chosen topic. Books read in the course may be used for this paper, but at least 10 other sources must be consulted, including review essays, book reviews, and journal articles dealing with the topic – the paper must have a minimum of 10 sources. Additionally, graduate students must submit an accompanying annotated bibliography of at least 20 sources on the chosen topic.
Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers must be used for citations. Hand in two copies of your paper. One will be returned to you. The other I will keep for my files. For EACH day that the paper is late, including Saturdays and Sundays, 5 points will be deducted. A letter and a number grade will be assigned the paper.

Students are expected to attend all classes. Class attendance is recorded. More than four (4) UNDOCUMENTED absences will result in lowering a grade one level. Only school-sponsored activities and written doctor’s excuses are accepted as documented absences. Withdrawal from this course is the responsibility of the student. If the student stops attending, he/she could receive an “F” instead of a “W” for the course. THE LAST DAY TO DROP THIS COURSE WITH A “W” is March28, 2003.

Be on time as late arrivals disrupt class. Three tardies may constitute one absence. If you arrive after roll has been called, it is your responsibility to inform the instructor of your presence.

Take care of your needs (restroom, drink of water etc.) before you come to class. YOU ARE NEVER PERMITTED TO LEAVE THE CLASSROOM DURING AN EXAM - ANYONE WHO LEAVES FORFEITS HIS/HER EXAM.

Make-up exams will be given at one time during the week before finals - with the time and place to be announced later. ALL MAKE-UP EXAMINATIONS WILL BE ESSAY!
NOTE: All make-up exams and all written materials must be submitted to the instructor by Friday April 25, 2003.

Students are expected to perform all assignments and take exams without notes or outside assistance. ALL WORK IS EXPECTED TO BE YOUR OWN. Students are expected to be familiar with the conditions (stated in the Student Calendar/Handbook) which constitute an offence against academic honesty to avoid breeches of these standards. Such offenses include cheating, plagiarism, or violations of professional ethics. Any student who violates Academic Honesty as defined in the Central Missouri State University Handbook (pp. 124-125) will receive an “F” for the course. “Examples of offenses against academic honesty include, but are not limited to the following: Plagiarism . . .; Cheating . . .; Breach of Standards of Professional Ethics . . .” (p. 124).

It is the responsibility of faculty to control classes for the benefit of all students. The instructor may assign seats or reassign seats in order to maintain order.
“Faculty members have the authority and the responsibility to control their classes. Should a student disrupt class activities, the student should be asked to leave the classroom and to schedule an appointment with the instructor to discuss the problem. If the student refuses to leave the classroom, the instructor may dismiss the class and discuss the matter with his or her department chair. Both the college dean and the Student Affairs Office should be notified. In the event of a serious classroom
disruption requiring an immediate response, the instructor should call the Department of Public Safety (Campus Police) (Faculty Handbook).

Although final examinations for this course are normally administered in accordance with the Final Examination Schedule, final exams will be administered one week early this semester, as the instructor will be teaching a course in Maastrict, the Netherlands during the first week of May 2003.


SECTION I: African Societies, Atlantic Commerce & the Formation of the Plantation Complex
Classes will consider the following questions and issues:

A. How important was the role of government---either African or European, as opposed to private enterprise---in the development of Atlantic commerce?

B. How important was the Columbian Exchange, and which societies profited the most from it?

C. Compare and contrast forms of slavery as they existed in European, Islamic and African cultures in the late medieval era.

D. In what ways, if any, is it appropriate to call the Brazilian plantation complex a feudal institution?

E. Did the Spanish have genuine options for their sixteenth-century colonization in the Caribbean, or did conditions beyond their control force them to take the course they took?

F. How and why did the slave trade change from a trickle to a flood? Describe the controversy over how many Africans were transported to the Americas.

G. Was a “sugar revolution” possible in the eastern Caribbean without an African source of slaves?

H. Was the British entry into the plantation complex a new departure or merely a small adjustment to the system as it had been?

Section II - Slavery and the Slave Trade from Africa
Classes will consider the following questions and issues:

A. Should the institutions called “slavery” in West Africa be given another label, or are they fundamentally similar to American plantation slavery?

B. Was African slavery and the slave trade forced on Africa by outsiders, or was it an outgrowth of indigenous institutions?

C. How drastically did West African Societies remake themselves in response to the European demand for slaves?

D. Was the African response to the slave trade in West Central Africa essentially different from the response in West Africa?

E. Why were slaves cheap in Africa?

F. How damaging was the slave trade to the health and well being of African societies?

G. Why was the Brazilian gold rush also based on slave labor?

H. Were there any significant differences in slave management and plantation management between Brazil, the French West Indies, and the British West Indies?

I. Discuss slave life in the Atlantic world, noting the similarities and differences in North American and Caribbean slavery.

Section III – North American Cultural Transformations & The End of Slavery

A. Discuss African American resistance to slavery. Why was the Haitian Revolution more violent than other (perhaps successful) instances of resistance?

B. Discuss the cultural transformations brought about by the African Diaspora? How significant were African cultural influences in the Atlantic world?

C. Discuss the interaction of African religions and Christianity in the Atlantic world.

E. Did the American Revolution encourage the end of British slavery? How did events in North America affect the British West Indies’ economy?

F. Describe the composition of North American slave communities. How were these communities different from or similar to those of the Caribbean or South America? Were there more or less African retentions in North American slave communities?

G. According to Eric Williams, Britain’s industrialization gave rise to a new social order, an order in which the slave trade ceased to be central to the English economy. How does he relate the emancipation of slavery to the new industrial order?

H. Was the “coolie trade” a genuinely new kind of migration or merely a return to the slave trade under a new name?

I. How long, and to what degree did the plantation complex survive despite the formal abolition of slavery?

J. Was the growth of a non-slave trade more a result of economic changes in Europe and Africa or a consequence of the abolition of the slave trade?

K. Were regional conflicts principally responsible for the abolition of slavery in Cuba, Brazil and the United States? Or were other factors equally or more important?

L. What was the role of the plantation complex in world history?

M. What should be history’s final judgment on the Eric Williams thesis?

N. Was the growth of a non-slave trade more a result of economic changes in Europe and Africa or a consequence of the abolition of the slave trade?