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HIS 474: Special Seminar: Urban Africa

2016/17, Second semester

Optional course, 3 credits. Lecturer: Dr Prof. S. Volz, visiting scholar from Kenyon College, U.S.A.

This course explores the role that towns and cities have played in African history, tracing the development of urban areas from early times up to the present. In regarding urban areas as integral features of African societies, the course questions stereotypes of Africa as essentially rural and traditional, examining instead African capacities for cultural synthesis, adaptation and innovation. Among the general themes studied are urban-rural relations, trade, political centralization, industrialization and globalization. Given the immensity of the continent and its history, the course focuses on a select assortment of urban areas as case studies, with particular emphasis on southern Africa and on the twentieth century. It also utilizes a range of sources such as archaeology, memoirs, government documents and literature, and it includes scholarship from sociology and other disciplines.