READING THE AFRICAN DIASPORA: METHODS AND APPROACHES

nb: to be expanded and adapted to suit Semester sytsem

COURSE OBJECTIVE

.A study and review of established and emerging research ideas and discourses, methods, techniques, analytical tools
and research models for investigating the peoples, products and processes of the African diaspora. The course begins
with an overview of paradigms, issues and concerns in worldwide diaspora research, with emphasis on their relevance
to the African diaspora.  Next, we will examine argumentations and landmark research projects that locate and define
the African diaspora, including geographic limits, time depth, dialectics of home and abroad/exile, etc., and with focus
on specific processes, products and experiences such as differentials in patterns of slavery, mobility and multiple
deterritorialization,  and others. We will examine specific analytical ideas and concepts such as trauma, shared
consciousness and cultural memory, hybridity, Africanism, and current critical discourse on race theory and identity
construction. Specific sites of cultural production and symbolic-aesthetic forms and the media that uniquely position
peoples of African ancestry will be examined but with attention to the application of original and existing investigative tools
from qualitative and quantitative research perspectives and from multi- and interdisciplinary backgrounds.

MAJOR TEXTS: (See Bib for Research Methods and Perspectives in Black Studies for methodology texts)

Theorizing diaspora : a reader / edited by Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur Malden, MA : Blackwell Pub., 2003
Global dimensions of the African diaspora / edited by Joseph E. Harris Washington, D.C. : Howard University Press, 1993
Global diasporas : an introduction / Robin Cohen Seattle: University of Washington P 1997
African roots/American cultures : Africa in the creation of the Americas / edited by Sheila S. Walker
         Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, c2001
New African diasporas / edited by Khalid Koser London ; New York : Routledge, 2003    
Black Cultural Traffic: Crossroads in Global Performance and Popular Culture. Elam, Harry J., Jr. and Kennell Jackson, eds. Ann Arbor: Univ of Michigan Press, 2005.


Selections on reserve (see list of reserve materials); supplementary articles are accesible from JSTOR

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

Students must complete all reading assignments before each class and be prepared to respond to questions based on the readings, as indicated in the weekly schedule.

Special Assignments: Students will provide written and oral critical responses to selected essays, film, documentary, musical composition, choreography, theatre piece, or significant audio or musical recordings that reflect the experiences and ideas of individuals, people and events of the African diaspora. [Students will be given a sample list of works/artists/authors, as a starting point.] All students will complete a final research paper which is based on either specific fieldwork assignments  or archival-library resources. Details of the research paper and special assignments will be discussed in class.

All written assignments must be typed, double-spaced, 12-point Times Roman and must conform to one of the major citation formats or styles (include Internet) consistently. [Please see my website under Research Guides for links to citation formats and writing /styles]

Grading:

Attendance and participation           10%        4 Short Reviews (10% each)          40%

Mid-term Exam                                 20%

Special Fieldwork or Archival/Library Research Paper                                           30%                       

Grading: A combination of points and letter grades and averaging will be employed, but instructor has the discretion to favor a particular system. Example: 95-100 =A; 90-94-A-; 85-89=B+; 80-84=B; 75-79=B-; 70-74=C+; 65-69=C; 60-64=D; etc Letter grades will be assigned in all cases.

 


 

*The instructors reserves the right to change, substitute, and add to the weekly schedule

SCHEDULE

WEEK 1  First things first; WHAT IS THE AFRICAN DIASPORA?
           
What and Where is Home? Current world events and challenges to notions of a diaspora
                        Comparing and reasoning out definitions—Questions that demand complex answers

Readings: special handouts

Assignments:   special instruction

WEEK 2  Definitions, cntd

WEEK 3  AFRICAN SOCIETIES, PAST AND PRESENT

--Major African civilizations and their global impact;  diversity of socioeconomic, political, religious and aesthetic traditions; and external linkages and influences; unity in diversity

 --Critical review of early African diaspora studies

WEEK 4:  THE MEDIA AND THE AFRICAN DIASPORA--I

             Contemporary local performances, fiction, exhibition (physical and virtual cyberspace,

photography, etc), theater, and questions of Roots and Memories of Africa (nostalgia, imaginary, etc.) cultural, racial, ethnic identities

WEEK 5: THE MEDIA AND THE AFRICAN DIASPORA--II

             Contemporary local performances, fiction, exhibition (physical and virtual cyberspace,

photography, etc), theater, and questions of Roots and Memories of Africa (nostalgia, imaginary, etc.) cultural, racial, ethnic identities

Critiques of the literature and in the light of specific performance/media events

WEEK 6: CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES TO STUDYING DIASPORIC COMMUNITIES--1

            Selective ideas from Theorizing Diaspora; Global Diasporas; Cartographies;

Displacement, diaspora, and geographies of identity; Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora;  Identity and the Arts in Diaspora Communities; Maggie Morehouse essay

WEEK 7: CONTEMP. APPROACHES TO STUDYING DIASPORIC COMMUNITIES--II

Overview of Qualitative and Quantitative MethodsQuestionnaire design

Problems of the quantitative method in studying Africa and the African Diaspora
WEEK 8:
CONTEMP. APPROACHES TO STUDYING DIASPORIC COMMUNITIES--III

            “Space” in Historiography; techniques of oral history; interpreting and analyzing

 autobiographies and narratives; auto-ethnography and critical ethnography

WEEK 9: The Comparative Method—review and critique of selective studies, I

            large-scale and simple comparative methods

WEEK 10: The Comparative Method—review and critique of selective studies, II

            --one ethnic group spread in several African Diaspora communities—Yoruba

            --maroon communities and basic assumptions underlying Africanisms and retention studies

            --Typology of trauma and challenges to theory and method

WEEK 11:  Archaeology—integrating oral history, linguistics, indigenous script; the

 relevance of mixed methods and triangulation, team research, audiovisual documentation;

            --review and critique of selective documentaries, professional and amateurs

 


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