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HIST3180 The rise and fall of the British Empire in Africa: Conquest, colony, and rebellion, 1900-60, part 1

Module Overview

This special subject will examine a topic that remains contentious: imperialism in Africa. Taking the British colonies as case studies, this Special Subject will focus on two things. Firstly, it will examine the means by which the British gained and maintained control of such vast territories. How did the British establish coercive and collaborative mechanisms, and how enduring were these? Secondly, it will look at the impact of such imperial rule upon African societies: how it did (or did not) alter the way African communities ran politically, economically and socially. How did the British presence alter what it meant to be African? The Special Subject will take in a variety of case studies, from Nigeria and the Gold Coast in the west, to Sudan and Kenya in the east, and a broad cross-section of British and African life, from the elite officials in London and the governors in colonial capitals, to the administrators, missionaries and anthropologists on the ground, as well as African peoples from chiefs to anti-colonial nationalists. The course will include seminars on processes common across all of British Africa, such as the creation of networks of collaboration with chiefs, with the emphasis being on comparative study as a means of assessing how far local conditions on the ground affected the implementation of policies as devised by central authorities in London and colonial capitals. The course will also consider particular case studies.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• introduce you to the interactions between the British imperial state and African communities in the twentieth century • help develop insights into British ideas about governance, duty, race, and authority, among others, and the degree to which these shaped the look and feel of the imperial state at a local level • get you thinking about the processes and limits of coercion and accommodation at work in the colonial encounter • provide a sense of the historical debates surrounding the ideas and policies that underpinned the British Empire • introduce you to a diverse range of primary sources

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • you will have developed a sense of the chronology, personalities and major events in the history of the British Empire in Africa
  • you will be familiar with a variety of primary sources, including diaries and letters, official governmental papers, and anti-colonial nationalist texts
  • you will have developed a sense of how historians have grappled with the question of the interactions between Briton and African
  • you will have considered some of the events that helped shape modern Britain and modern Africa, such as the First World War
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • find and analyse primary source materials
  • develop your time management skills
  • debate with others in small and large group discussions
  • develop your communication skills
  • structure and produce coherent pieces of work
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • work effectively within set guidelines on how to produce essays at undergraduate level
  • weigh up the relative merits of different ways other historians have approached the topic
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse primary and secondary sources and discuss and present your ideas cogently in class discussions and written exercises
  • adopt a clearer approach to concepts that are sometimes difficult to negotiate, such as race and tribe
  • think more critically about the ways by which one community studies and attempts to understand another, and the application of any resultant knowledge to the act of constructing and maintaining an empire

Syllabus

This special subject will examine a topic that remains contentious: imperialism in Africa. Taking the British colonies as case studies, this Special Subject will focus on two things. Firstly, it will examine the means by which the British gained and maintained control of such vast territories. How did the British establish coercive and collaborative mechanisms, and how enduring were these? Secondly, it will look at the impact of such imperial rule upon African societies: how it did (or did not) alter the way African communities ran politically, economically and socially. How did the British presence alter what it meant to be African? The Special Subject will take in a variety of case studies, from Nigeria and the Gold Coast in the west, to Sudan and Kenya in the east, and a broad cross-section of British and African life, from the elite officials in London and the governors in colonial capitals, to the administrators, missionaries and anthropologists on the ground, as well as African peoples from chiefs to anti-colonial nationalists. The course will include seminars on processes common across all of British Africa, such as the creation of networks of collaboration with chiefs, with the emphasis being on comparative study as a means of assessing how far local conditions on the ground affected the implementation of policies as devised by central authorities in London and colonial capitals. The course will also consider particular case studies. The first semester will examine the rise and consolidation of the colonial state, from when the dust of conflict settled at the dawn of the twentieth century to the Second World War. How was it that a handful of men were able to secure thousands of square miles for the British Empire? What were their aims? What were they able to achieve? Can we accurately assess the extent of British authority? In what ways were Britons forced to work with what they found on the ground? To what extent was the colonial encounter a fractured one, with discord between different European groups such as missionaries complicating the act of governance? And how did Africans, both ‘traditional’ elites and a newly emergent Western-educated nationalist class, engage with the colonial state? How can we explain the divergent nature of protest across the different colonies? During the first semester, the course will include seminars on the following topics: The Depression In addition, preparation for the historiographical essay will be assisted by two seminars that focus on the historiography of the construction of empires as dealt with by pre-independence, Marxist and postcolonialist scholars.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: large and small group discussions, including feedback from the tutor close reading and analysis of primary texts Learning activities include: ? developing research skills, including the undertaking of preparatory reading and individual before seminars ? preparing and delivering short presentations in response to particular questions raised by the historiography surrounding the module topic ? studying textual primary sources, including memoirs, novels, government papers, and missionary and anthropological texts ? viewing of Pathé newsreels and other archival footage ? participating in small-group and full-class discussion During the undertaking of this Special Subject, learning and teaching activities will focus on helping you to explore and investigate the topics and historiographical issues raised by scholars of the British Empire in Africa. In addition, you will also engage in directed and self-directed study. This will involve undertaking pre- seminar reading and conducting library research, as well as delivering class presentations based on your own research. You will use the bibliography provided as a starting point for such research. In-class discussions will help develop a sense of the debates that have surrounded the topic. You will study a range of primary written sources created by both Britons ‘on the spot’ in Africa and back in London, and by Africans impacted upon by the advent of colonial rule. All of these activities will facilitate preparation for the essay and examination exercises. Feedback on your progress and development will be given via seminars and group discussions. You will also receive formative feedback from your tutor.

TypeHours
Independent Study260
Teaching40
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Kenyatta, Jomo (1938). Facing Mount Kenya. 

Reid, Richard (2008). A history of modern Africa: 1800 to the present. 

Iliffe, John (2007). Africans: The history of a continent. 

McCaskie, Tom (2000). Asante identities: History and modernity in an African village, 1850-1950. 

Falola, Toyin, and Matthew Heaton (2008). A history of Nigeria. 

Daly, Martin W (1986). Empire on the Nile: The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan 1898-1934. 

Strachan, Hew (ed.) (1998). The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War. 

Berman, Bruce, and John Lonsdale (1992). Unhappy valley: Conflict in Kenya & Africa. 

Smith, Anthony D (1983). State and nation in the Third World. 

Rathbone, Richard (1978). World War I and Africa: An introduction. Journal of African History. ,19 , pp. 1--10.

Freund, Bill (1984). The making of contemporary Africa: The development of African society since 1800. 

Daly, Martin W. (ed.) (1998). Cambridge history of Egypt Volume Two, chs.10, 12, 13. 

Darwin, John (1991). Britain, Egypt and the Middle East: Imperial Policy in the aftermath of war 1918-1922. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback: ? tutorials to provide consultation on assessed essays ? guidance and advice in class on preparation, completion and presentation of assignments ? regular work with primary sources to prepare for the essay and examination exercises

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Take-away exam 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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