AFR 265
Afrodiasporic Communities: Marronage, Quilombismo, and Black Towns Fall 2024
Division II

Class Details

In the early 19th century, a small Black community formed in White Oaks, Williamstown/MA. In 1866, 32 West Africans founded Africatown/AL, one of the first cities established and governed by Black people in the United States. In the face of the impossibility of returning to their native lands, as recounted by the Martinican poet Aimé Cesaire, millions of Africans and their descendants sought to find home in the Diaspora. In so doing, they not only contributed to building cities, nations and societies. Frequently, and in several episodes alongside Amerindians, the Black population in the Americas endeavored numerous strategies that challenged the colonial order. Such experiences also occurred in the Caribbean and Latin America and are usually described as maroon societies, cimarrons, or quilombos. However, the literature does not usually address them via an Afrodiasporic framework. Drawing from the work of scholars such as Abdias do Nascimento (Brazil, 1914-2011), students will analyze the bonds of combative solidarity within and across the Black Diaspora in the Americas. Through this approach, the experiences of Afrodiasporic Communities are not only defined or limited to the forms of territorial organization. Instead, they can be viewed and studied as examples of Black association aligned with the struggles of emancipation — from rural villages to urban neighborhoods and towns. The seminar invites students to investigate and discuss the following questions: What do these communities have in common? What are their main differences in countries such as the USA, Jamaica, Colombia, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil? What can we learn from the history of White Oaks and Africatown? How could we use concepts such as quilombismo and marronage to think about the Black Experience today? The seminar aims to provide students with an Afrodiasporic framework (drawn mainly from Anthropology, Sociology, and History) to investigate different experiences in the Black Diaspora.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 15
Class#: 1366
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Class participation and attendance (asking questions and leading discussions); weekly e-reading response papers (300-500 words); and a final essay or research paper (5-10 pages)
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Majors and concentrators in Africana Studies, Sociology, and Anthropology
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: AFR Core Electives

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