The archive is a demonstration of power. It is not neutral. African archives are particularly imbued with power and are often dispersed, as a result of the slave trade, colonialism, and postcolonial conflicts. Far from dull, African archives and the study of the African past are intimately tied to present politics. In this course we will explore the theory, methods, and politics of the archive. We will raise questions like: what is a decolonial archive? what is recovery? can we build reparative archives? Our work will involve weekly readings. Across the semester, we will move from reading work that raises theoretical questions to reading monographs whose authors use existing archives and build their own archival collections. We will research and explore new online archives and how archives have become a part of activist concerns, contemporary art practice, and public debates. Writing will include weekly reflections and a final paper on your theory of the archive, sites of archival work, and methods.
Sonia Vaz Borges, Militant Education, liberation struggle and consciousness. The PAIGC education in Guinea Bissau 1963-1978 (Peter Lang, 2019)
Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (Norton, 2019)
Patricia Hayes and Gary Minkley, eds., Ambivalent: Photography and Visibility in African History (Ohio University, 2019)
Ato Quayson, Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism (Duke, 2014)
Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Beacon, 2nd ed., 2015)
V.Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa (Indiana University, 1988)
T.J. Tallie, Queering Colonial Natal (University of Minnesota, 2019)