HIST 486
Race and A Global War: Africa During World War II Spring 2025
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

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.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3479
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will be evaluated based on a series of 5-7-page tutorial response papers and 2-page critiques, as well as preparedness for and performance in weekly tutorial discussions.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Preference will be given to history majors and students with prior experience with African history. If the course is over-enrolled, students may be asked to complete a questionnaire to determine enrollment
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
WS Notes: Students will alternate weekly between writing 5-7-page tutorial papers and 2-page critiques of their peers' writing. Formal writing assignments throughout the semester will total at least 40 pages. Students will receive written feedback on their writing from the professor, as well as oral critiques from the professor and tutorial partners. The final writing assignment will afford students the chance to reflect on their previous papers and the semester's course content.
DPE Notes: 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.
Attributes: AFR Core Electives
GBST African Studies
HIST Group A Electives - Africa

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