H60 Final Prompt

H60 Final Prompt

Description  Details

Discipline History

Assignment type : Essay


The following is a quotation from Dr. Barbara Isaacman given in the keynote address to the 2014 African Studies Organization Annual Conference:

“People who really understand just how and why the European conquest of Africa happened have a tremendous jump on understanding why things happened as they did in the colonial period and, I would argue, in the post-colonial period.”

Please imagine that you attended Dr. Isaacman’s keynote address. With reference to: two features from the colonial period (choose from: Indirect Rule, colonial slavery, cash cropping peasants and migrant labour, control over women), the causes of decolonization, and the generally rapid demise of democracy across Africa following independence, write a report of what you heard in Dr. Isaacman’s speech.

  • [Please note that Dr. Isaacman is one of the authors of the article “Resistance and Collaboration in Southern and Central Africa” assigned on Oct.11.]

Preparatory Questions

What follows are some questions that you should spend some time writing through as part of the process of writing the exam. Writing is part of the process of thinking and doing some preparatory writing will help you marshal and systematize your thoughts. (As you write through these questions, make sure you bring in case studies from the course reader. These case studies, along w/ material from C&B, represent the evidence that Dr. Isaacman would use to write her speech.)

  1. Inthequotationabove,Dr.Isaacmanarguesthatweneedtounderstandhowand why the European conquest of Africa happened in order to understand why change happened in subsequent periods in Africa’s history. Explain her understanding of how the conquest happened. Does she privilege an ‘externalist’ view? Does she think that political and social tensions within African societies are important to an understanding of the conquest? Can you generalize her analysis? How would Isaacman answer the general question: ‘What causes change in sub-Saharan African history?’ [Note: as you think through this question, you should also be considering questions 1 a&b on next page.]
  2. GivenIsaacman’sunderstandingofwhatcauseshistoricalchange,whatwouldshe want to tell the audience about:
  3. IndirectRule(whatitwasandwhyitbecamethenorm?)
  4. colonial slavery (Why did most colonial powers not end slavery? Were there circumstances beyond their control? Did the prior existence of slavery have

an impact on the continuance?)

  1. why cash cropping peasants and migrant labour became the dominant feature

of the colonial economy (what were the goals of peasants and how did their actions in pursuing those goals help generate this feature of the colonial economy?)

  1. whymalestriedtoexertcontroloverfemalesinthewaysthattheydid?
  2. whydecolonizationhappened?So,ifsheandDorothyHodgson(theMasai

Development Plan) sat down over coffee, do you think their conversation about the causes of decolonization would be more congenial or more contentious? In other words, do you think their analyses of what is causing change would mostly agree or mostly disagree?

  1. the move to some form of autocratic rule that many African states made in the years following independence?



Things to think about when writing

  1. The questions above are to help you analyze the material. Your exam must not be

a series of answers to these questions. Rather, you need to think about organizing it according to a couple of questions:

  1. What is the historical issue that I am saying something about in this essay? To

get a handle on this, write out in your own words what you think Isaacman would say in answer to the general question ‘What is causing change in sub-Saharan African history?’ To help with this, you should think back to the discussion we had at the beginning of the semester about the ‘externalist’ explanation of history and the argument the course makes about that explanation. It might also be helpful to consider again the ‘Introduction’ to the course on p.1 of the syllabus.

  1. What am I arguing about that issue? Or, what point am I trying to make about that issue? This will be your understanding of how Isaacman’s explanation of the conquest can be applied to other periods of sub-Saharan Africa’s history as a way of explaining what is causing historical change.
  2. Note: your argument and the framing of the historical issue will be contained in your introduction.
  3. What major points of evidence can I include that will help me to make that point? [Note: this will constitute the body of your paper]
  4. As you think about this, please be aware that I will be looking for specific evidence from Collins & Burns and the course reader (i.e., the case studies we examined). I will also be looking for how completely you deal with the major topics we have discussed. I want to see that you understand the significance of the material we have discussed. To this end, you need to make sure you explain as you present this material just how it helps you make the argument you are making. In other words, you need to explain the significance of your evidence.
  5. Conclusions:Beabletorestateyourargumentandtie-upyourmajorpointsof evidence.
  6. Optional component: Some of you in class on Friday expressed an interest in critiquing Isaacman’s approach to examining historical change. If you choose to write the exam as a report of her speech, you can certainly use part of your conclusions to provide your critique.
  7. Theabovefourbulletpoints(a.historicalissue,b.argument,c.evidence, d. conclusions) constitute the criteria on which I will assess your exam.
  8. Iwouldsuggestthatyouwriteoutadraftofyourintroductionasafirststepin writing. This would include your statement of the historical problem and your point. You will need to refine/revise this draft once you’ve written the paper, but having a draft will help you focus.

Other instructions/Formatting

  • Due: Thursday, Dec. 14, noon.

o Submit exam via Blackboard; under ‘Assignments’ tab, choose ‘Final Exam”

o No Late exams will be accepted after Dec. 19 at noon. The late penalty will be


  • Length: 7 to 10 pages of text (double-spaced, 12 pt. font, standard ‘Word’ margins).
  • Please insert page numbers.
  • You must use in-text citations.

o Use the following convention: (Author’s name, page number(s)). Here is an example: (Collins & Burns, pp.106-107)

o Make sure you cite ideas, concepts, and not generally known facts, as well as direct quotes.

  • Spend time making the writing good (flow, word choice, good transitions, grammatically error free, etc.) Good writing matters. If you are planning to use the services of the Writing Center, make sure you make an appointment well ahead.

Format MLA

Academic Level: –

Volume of 7 pages (1925 words)

Type of service: Custom writing

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