University of Notre Dame

A History of Modern Africa

Course Number: HIST 10061

This course is an introduction to the history of the peoples of Africa from the late nineteenth century to the present day. During the term, we will consider the ways in which Africans shaped and were shaped by the transformative events of the period. In the second half of the nineteenth century, European powers conquered and colonized much of the continent. Over the next sixty years, Africans lived and died under the yoke of European rule; some resisted, others collaborated, but all influenced the nature of colonialism and its eventual collapse. By the 1960s, most Africans were free of foreign rule. Since then the peoples of Africa have endeavored to achieve political stability, navigate Cold War politics, harness development aid, and adapt to a globalizing economy. In recent years, they have succumbed to brutal wars and endured devastating famines, but they have also inspired the world with their triumph over apartheid, emerging vibrant democracies, rich cultures, and deep history. In this class, we will identify, problematize, and debate these major themes in Modern African history. We also will make use of a variety of texts, from historical documents to classic academic works to works of African art, film, and fiction.