One of the first big issues that we always have to tackle when we study Africa in the classroom is the prevalence of inaccurate western associations with the continent. This assignment throws you into the tasks of (1) articulating western stereotypes about Africa, and (2) considering how these stereotypes have limited us and what we might do to better understand Africa’s rich, diverse history.
Step 1: What are the stereotypes? Work through two or more of the linked sources below. Jot down ideas as you read and watch the video if you have ever encountered any of the mentioned images of Africa. Write up a paragraph (100+ words) with internal citations referencing the sources below and potentially your textbook to explain several main misconceptions that most Americans have about Africa.
Step 2: What are the solutions? Then in about 100 words, address what challenges these stereotypes pose for scholars of African History and the general public. Assess one or more solution(s) offered in the linked readings. Do you think that the solution would help an American public better understand African History? Why or why not? Again, use internal citations and refer to authors by last name as you consider potential solutions.
Stereotypes and How They Challenge Our Studying of Africa
Robert Pijipers, “Stereotyping Africa: an appeal for a normal people perspective,” (2016).
Brenda Randolph, “I Didn’t Know There Were Cities in Africa! Challenging children’s -and adults’ – misperceptions about the African continent,” (2008).
Jonathan Zimmerman, “Americans Think Africa is One Big Wild Animal Reserve,” (2014)
Upfront, Aljazeera, “Reality Check: Africa is not a country,” (2015).
BBC, “One of Africa’s Best Kept Secrets – Its History” (2017).
Ihediwa Nkemjika Chimee, “African Historiography and the Challenges of European Periodization: A Historical Comment,” (2018).
Nancy Schmidt, “African Curriculum Materials,” (1990).
Paulin Hountondji, “Knowledge of Africa, Knowledge by Africans: Two Perspectives on African Studies,” (2009).
Final Step: Responses: Respond to TWO of your classmates in posts of 100+ words. Be sure to add new ideas and include the required citations (refer to these posted readings and cite them in a bibliography) in each one of your posts.
Do not use outside sources to complete this assignment.
Be sure to cite the linked readings and the video wherever you reference them in your posts.
Please note that we’re not attacking, belittling, or ranting about any points of view. We’re just recognizing that certain inaccurate images tend to dominate our American view of Africa to the exclusion of everything else. What can scholars, teachers, media, and other sources of information do to improve our understanding of the continent?
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