Special Topics in History: Nations and Identities
Jeffrey Lesser and Ana Teixeira
This graduate seminar focuses on a comparative study of Lusophone Africa, Brazil, and Portugal, from the end of World War II to today. By focusing on the so-called Afro-Luso-Brazilian triangle we will explore the multidirectional exchanges of people, memories, ideas and goods in these three continents. Selected literary, cultural, historical, anthropological and religious texts, along with films and music, will serve as vehicles for analysis of major political and social shifts that have affected the landscape of the contemporary Portuguese-speaking world and beyond: from Brazil’s military dictatorship to its transition to democracy; from Portugal’s New State to membership in the European Union; and from the wars of independence in Africa to the formation of newly independent nations. We will examine a variety of topics relating to memory, trauma and war including the formation of national, local and individual identities, gender and family dynamics, generational change, rural and urban relationships, migration and diaspora, and race and ethnic relations.
Africa & Era of Slave Trade
This course focuses on the history of selected African societies from the sixteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries. It will begin with an examination of the Atlantic slave trade and its impact on Africa and return intermittently to these subjects. The primary goal, however, is to study the political, economic, social, and cultural history of a number of peoples who participated in the Atlantic slave trade or were touched by it during the era of their involvement. The course is designed to serve both as a colloquium on the pre-colonial history of West and West-central Africa and as an introduction to the history and culture of African peoples who entered the diaspora during the era of the slave trade. Its audience is students interested in the history of Africa, the African diaspora, and the Atlantic world, as well as those who want to learn about the history of the slave trade. Case studies will include the Yoruba, Akan, and Fon, as well as Senegambian and West-central African peoples.