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Africa History & Anthropology BA3:


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African kingdoms and Empires to 19th Century: The Past in the Present

The course examines the social and political developments (daily lives, slavery, power relations, inequality, arts, science and technology) in pre-colonial African empires and kingdoms up till the 19th Century. It further observes how this deep history has played a role in today’s African conflicts (the past in the present) as well as the consequences of colonialism and Christianity on these developments.

Admission requirements

History students should have successfully completed their propaedeutic exam and both second-year BA-seminars, one of which in Algemene Geschiedenis.

Students of Afrikaanse Talen en Culturen should have successfully completed their propaedeutic exam and successfully completed their second year of study.


This is a history/anthropology seminar course that is part of the track history/anthropology in the BA Languages and cultures of Africa. The course seeks to understand geographical mobility of Europeans from Europe to Africa and back to Europe by the Dutchmen. With the help of mobility theory the course focuses on reverse mobility. The main thrust is to question new forms of mirroring migration taking the return Dutch migrants from Cameroon as a case study. It questions why and how these returned migrants have remained connected to areas in Africa like Cameroon and with what consequences.
After the defeat of the Germans in Cameroon in the First World War, Britain and France partitioned the territory and the Mill Hill Missionaries took over the evangelisation. Most of these missionaries if not all were Dutch. With them came medical doctors and volunteer workers. In this course, we start from an understanding of the (re)construction of history at the basis of primary sources. Then students will each work on a case study/biographical research. The idea is to do interviews and archival research with people and/or organisations missionaries, medical doctors and volunteers, in mission and private archives. The students will develop critical analytic skills in dealing with primary sources of historical (re)construction.
The proposed methodology is interdisciplinary (anthropology, history, historical ethnography). Visual objects like photographs will also form part of the methodology. Students will work in mission archives found at Osterbeek, Netherlands and Lisse at the outskirts of Leiden and NGO archives that can be found in the Netherlands. In both these areas and around Holland students will contact retired people for interviews. Also they will enter private archives of individuals who worked in Cameroon. They will be trained in interview methodology as well as biographical research. The findings of this project will facilitate our understanding of reverse or returned migration and its dynamics.
Although a seminar course, it will start with a lecture in which the theory of migration and mobility is discussed. Each of the seminars will go with at least two articles or chapters. The students are expected to make a summary of literatures. Then space will be created to discuss the research work the students will do; What will each of them work on and what are the topics etc? An archive with all the material the students will find will be develop so that it helps in creating a basis for the research on reverse migration between Cameroon and the Netherlands.
The course has the following parts:
1. Theory of migration and mobility
2. Cameroon and Europe ethnographic/history information
3. Methodology: archival research and working with informants and doing interviews
4. Students developing their own research and writing a paper about it.

General learning objectives

General learning objectives
By the end of this course, the students are expected to have acquired the following:

1) Conduct and execute academic research within a defined scope, including:
a. organizing and using relatively large amounts of information
b. identifying and selecting relevant literature
c. analyzing a scholarly debate
d. placing their own research within the context of a scholarly debate

2) Write a problem-based essay and give an oral presentation following the format defined in the Syllabus Themacolleges, including:
a. using a realistic work schedule
b. formulating a realistic research question and sub-questions
c. formulating a reasoned conclusion
d. giving and receiving feedback
e. responding to the instructions of the lecturer

3) Reflect on the primary sources on which the literature is based
4) Select and use primary sources in their own research
5) Analyze primary sources and place and interpret them in their historical context
6) Actively participate in class discussions

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

7) The student has knowledge of a specialization(s) to which the BA Seminar belongs; more specifically in the specialization General History, of the place of European history from around 1930s in a global perspective; and especially in the specialization History of European Expansion and Globalization, of the emergence of global networks that bring about an ever increasing circulation of people, animals, crops, goods, and ideas, and the central role of European expansion from c. 1930
8) The student has knowledge and understanding of the core concepts, research methods, and techniques of the specialization, with special attention; for the specialization General History for the study of primary sources and the relativity of nationally defined histories; and especially the track History of European Expansion and Globalization, for combining historiographic debates with empirical research on primary sources and/or linking separate historiographic traditions through innovative research
Learning objectives, pertaining to this specific seminar
By the end of this course, the student have acquired the following:
9) Knowledge of the historiography and historical anthropology of Africa
10) Knowledge of the historiography of the shared history of the Netherlands and Cameroon and Cameroon archival, library, and museum collections in the Netherlands
11) Can identify primary sources, select sources, critique sources, and apply sources in an academic essay.


The timetable is available on the Rooster BA Geschiedenis

Rooster BA Afrikaanse Talen en Culturen

Mode of instruction


The final grade for the course is established by the weighted average of assessments with the additional requirement that the written paper must receive at minimum a passing (sufficient) grade.

Assessment method

Written paper (c.7200 words, problem-based research using primary sources, and interviews including footnotes and a bibliography)
measured learning objectives: 1-5, 9-11
Oral presentation
measured learning objectives: 3-5, 9-11
measured learning objectives: 6, 9-10


Written paper: 70%
Oral presentation: 20%
Participation: 10%


Written papers should be handed in on or before the given deadline


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Blackboard will be used for:

Reading list

Will be published on blackboard with the course lay-out in the first week of September


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in [English]( and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Walter Gam Nkwi
Huizinga building 1.39