INAF-404 African Americans and Africa
Fall for 2017-2018
The relationship between African Americans and Africans is centuries old. From slavery, the founding of Liberia, and WEB DuBois’s Pan Africanist Congresses, to African nationalism, the anti-apartheid movement, and the Obama presidency, many African Americans have looked to Africa as a motherland. For their part, African nationalists were inspired by the American civil rights movement, and many Africans today, like other immigrants, see the United States as a land of opportunity. Yet despite this chord of history and shared ancestry, the reality of African-African American relations is far more complex. African Americans have fostered abuse, even slavery, in Africa as recently as the 20th Century. There have been clashes between communities in the United States, over jobs, resources, and affirmative action policies. As immigrants, Africans have often misunderstood American blacks, attributing entrenched poverty not to the structural impediments of the US polity, but to lack of enterprise and ambition among their African American counterparts. This course examines the historical and contemporary trajectory of relations between African Americans and Africans. Our focus will be on policy and international engagement of African Americans with Africa, as well as cultural affinities—and tensions, economic cooperation, and the prospects for finding common ground between modern Africa and its American Diaspora. Among the questions we explore: What is the relationship of the Diaspora and African immigrants in the United States? Are African Americans a natural constituency for Africa in US foreign policy? What sociocultural, political and economic divides remain to be bridged (if they are bridgeable at all)? Drawing on a range of scholarly analyses, personal narratives, policy documents, fiction and film, this course explores these questions by looking at the evolution and future trajectories of relations between continental Africa and its largest Diaspora.
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