This list includes the History Department’s modules that take a decolonial approach to history. Please note that we cannot guarantee in advance which modules will be run in any particular year.
HIST2971 Regions and Peoples in the Atlantic Isles and North America (Dr Adrian Green)
Regions and Peoples in the Atlantic Isles and North Americais a reframing of a course that used to be titled Colonial British America. The module explores the processes of interaction between the peoples of North-West Europe, North America, and West Africa. Taking a regional approach provides a way of grasping this historical experience in geographical contexts rather than focusing on the institutional framework of formal colonies and empires that have tended to marginalize the role of Indigenous peoples. The module focuses on the regional character of Indigenous peoples in North America, and their relationship to European settlement in North America. The module explores the regional character of settlement established by various European nations – focusing especially on the architecture of Dutch, English and Scots, as well as French, German and Scandinavian settlers. The module also takes a regional approach to the experience of peoples of African origin, especially historical and archaeological evidence for cultural continuities from West Africa in North America. The module engages with recent scholarship and debates around race and the development of a capitalist society in North-West Europe and North America.
HIST1702A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, strand of Making History (Prof. Christina Riggs)
My strand of the first-year module Making History (HIST1702)is called A Thousand Miles Up the Nile – the name of a successful travel book by Victorian novelist Amelia B. Edwards, who founded the Egypt Exploration Society in 1882, endowed the first university chair in Egyptian archaeology at UCL, and campaigned to ‘save’ Egyptian antiquities by removing many of them from Egypt. We use Edwards’ text as a way into thinking about the interdependence of archaeology, visual culture, and colonialism in Egypt during its occupation by the British Empire. More than a popular ‘mania’, interest in ancient Egypt was integral to European military and monetary interests in the Middle East. By critiquing the colonial contexts that created Egyptology, and exploring the anti-colonial efforts of Egyptian scholars, students on this strand learn how a decolonising approach can inform historical research on visual and material culture as well as textual sources.
What do we mean by ‘Black’? What do we mean by ‘British’? This module examines how these terms have been negotiated and contested during the late modern period. Students investigate how the identities of, and the terminology used to describe, people of African origin and descent in Britain and the empire have been historically, geographically and politically contingent. This module provides a chronological and thematic overview of Black British history in the modern period, with a particular focus on the twentieth century. Students on this module discuss slavery & abolition, migration, politics & activism, gender, sexuality, identity, culture, and historiographical approaches to Black British history. Although most of the module is about the history of Black people in Britain itself, they also explore the creation of ‘Black British’ identities in the British Empire (especially in the Caribbean). This module, as much as possible, examines these histories from the perspectives of Black people, rather than from the perspective of the British state or elites.
HIST37A3 History of Black Radical Thought (Dr Theo Williams)
Taking a global perspective, this module explores the history of black radical thought by asking how Africans and people of African descent have responded to and reshaped the racialised world order of the modern period. It focuses in particular on the twentieth century, but also explores the long history of black radicalism over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Each week, students examine a different strain or period of black radical thought, including abolitionism, W.E.B. Du Bois and early Pan-Africanism, Marcus Garvey and Garveyism, Black Communism, Negritude, African anticolonialism, and the global Black Power movement. Much of the primary material used in the module consists of the non-fiction prose produced by black radical thinkers, such as manifestos, newspaper articles, letters, autobiography, and historical writing. Students also study speeches, poetry, literary works, and songs. Through a combination of primary and secondary reading, they examine how black radicalisms have intersected and engaged with liberalism, socialism, nationalism, internationalism, feminism and queer politics, and religious ideas. Students therefore gain an understanding of how black thinkers have both created their own intellectual traditions and responded to European radical ideas, variously adopting them, rejecting them, and modifying them.