Fall 2013 : African American Studies 201D Theories of the African Diaspora
- Tu 3-6P
- SCOTT, D
- 652 Barrows
(4) This course is intended to provide students with an initial background for the composition of the position paper discussing the theories and methodologies of the study of the African Diaspora necessary for passing department qualifying exams. It will introduce some of the theoretical frameworks for, and approaches to, scholarship concerning the African Diaspora. In the last two decades some of the central predicates of the relatively new field of African American or Black Studies have been challenged and reconceptualized: In the past, studies in the field tended to assume the centrality of national identities and the nation-state as a foundation for analysis. The concept of “diaspora” instead centers a developing understanding of how several centuries of the forced (and more recently, voluntary) expatriation of millions of Africans to European colonies in the Americas, and to Europe and Asia have given rise to 1) cross-oceanic transfers of bodies, labor, goods and capital—conceptualizations of diaspora that assume the centrality of the nation-state and homelands, and emphasize displacement, dispossession and migration as the concept’s defining characteristics—but also have given rise to 2) the complex circulation of a wide array of cultural practices and production (such as music, dance, fashion, and religion) and the dynamic creation of relational networks across or in defiance of borders and other demarcations of the “national,” conceptualizations which emphasize the discursive, psychic and affective dimensions of the lived experience of transnational diaspora. The course will examine some of the texts that founded this intervention in the field, as well as examples of cross-disciplinary scholarship that take up the challenge of diaspora as an analytic and conceptual category, and expand its meaning in different ways.