AFR 385
Assata Shakur and the War on Terror Spring 2025
Division II

Class Details

Since the 1970s, various US policing units, ranging from local New Jersey police to the FBI, have considered Assata Shakur a terrorist. Importantly, most scholarship on terrorism traces contemporary terrorism discourse to the 1970s. This course therefore approaches the trajectory of Assata Shakur through state archives as a guide for understanding developments in counterterrorism. Attention to her story illuminates the relationship between counterterrorism and the persistent question of armed resistance. It also highlights debates on the nature of black people’s positioning in the US: as a racial group facing discrimination or as an internal colony? Archival materials like Shakur’s letters from prison discussing Islam, her autobiography, and her other writings are an anchor for the course, giving a throughline to additional readings that will allow us to dive into a range of issues to which she is connected: Black land ownership in the South; the politics of the Black Liberation Army and similar Third World formations abroad; the influence of Black Islam through the story of the Shakur family; the experiences of women in prison; the role of Cuba, Algeria, and asylum across the Third World.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 13
Expected: 13
Class#: 3325
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Attendance/participation, presentation, and final paper
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Africana Studies, American Studies, and Religion majors and concentrators
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: AFR Black Landscapes

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