This course highlights African experiences of World War II. Although most histories have excluded Africa’s role in the war, the continent and its people were at the center of major developments during in this global conflict. In fact, many Africans remember the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 as the start of the war. African servicemen fought alongside the Allied and Axis forces on major warfronts in Europe, Africa and Asia. African communities and individuals also established war charity campaigns to collect funds, which they sent to war ravaged societies in Europe. Indeed, African economies, despite their colonial statuses, kept European imperial nations afloat in their most hour of need. At the same time, African colonial subjects faced severe food shortages, the loss of working-age men to labor and military recruiters, and dramatically increased taxes. We will examine the impact of these and other wartime pressures on different African communities. How did African societies meet such challenges and how did they view the war? In this course we will examine the roles that women played during the war, and the various other ways that African communities met wartime demands. Other topics we will explore include the role of African women; colonial propaganda; political protest against the war; race and racial thought in the wartime era; war crimes; African American support for the liberation of Ethiopia; and the war’s impact on decolonization across the continent. We will further study how Africans and outsiders have differently conceptualized the continent’s role in the war by analyzing a variety of sources, including scholarly writings, archival materials, films, former soldiers’ biographies, and propaganda posters.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
active participation in discussion, map quiz, 2 short papers (3-5 pages), presentation, and one research paper (8-12 pages)
first-year or sophomore standing; juniors or seniors with permission of instructor
first-year students and then sophomores who have not previously taken a 100-level seminar
Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
Students will write two 3-5-page essays each written in two drafts with instructor comments. They will also write an 8-12-page research paper with required submission of a proposed topic, an annotated bibliography, an outline, and a draft before the final paper itself. Students will receive from the instructor timely comments on their writing skills, with suggestions for improvement.
This course explores the colonial relationship during a major global crisis. Students will examine existing narratives of African contributions to the war and to come up with their own interpretations, and will be called to critically engage the question of why and how colonies made significant contributions to the Allied cause by producing needed materials and resources or by joining the fight. Africans made these contributions spite of various and complex inequities.