History | War and Peace in 20th Century Africa
E200 | 28981 | Moyd


In popular representation and imagination, Africa has often featured
as a hopelessly violent place. Africa’s twentieth century history
certainly provides numerous examples of armed conflict, including
anti-colonial wars, enmeshment in the two World Wars, liberation
wars, and post-liberation civil wars. Yet there are also significant
examples of African nation-states that have avoided war altogether,
or that have managed to forge lasting peace after prolonged
conflict. This course examines Africa’s history of war and peace in
the 20th century from our 21st century vantage point in order to
understand the reasons African men, women, and children have gone to
war or not. What measures have they taken to prevent war from
happening? What meanings do they associate with ideas of “war”
and “peace”? What do Africans themselves think about international
military and humanitarian intervention in conflicts on the
continent? Finally, we will consider what can be learned from
African communities’ engagements in post-conflict reconciliation and
rehabilitation efforts.

The course uses examples from across regions (north, south, east,
west, central) and eras (colonial, independence, and post-Cold War),
to help students develop arguments about the nature of war and peace
in Africa. This comparative survey will provide students with the
tools they need to develop critical and historically-informed
perspectives on conflict and conflict resolution in Africa and other
global contexts. A variety of texts, including scholarly articles, a
novel, and a memoir, will be assigned, and students should expect to
read at least 100 pages per week. Portions of films such as "The
Battle of Algiers, Flame, War/Dance," and "Black Hawk Down," will be
used as entry points for discussing how different directors have
depicted African conflicts over time. Guest lecturers will speak to
students on the history of political violence in Rwanda and Uganda.
Students will be evaluated through a combination of quizzes, short
response essays, and take-home exams. There are no prerequisites for
the course.