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HI405W: SPECIAL SUBJECT: ATLANTIC ENCOUNTERS: WESTERN AFRICA AND PORTUGAL (2022-2023)

Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:31


Course Overview

This course explores the relations between Portugal and Western Africa in the early modern period. It focuses on the period from 1415 to 1670 in which Portugal became the first European maritime power to establish contacts with societies in West and West Central Africa. Key themes include maritime navigation, Afro-European trade, and cultural contact. Particular focus will be placed on African responses and indigenous perspectives on European cultural contact.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
Co-ordinators
  • Dr Richard Anderson

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Programme Level 4 or Programme Level 5
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • History (HI)

What other courses must be taken with this course?

None.

What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • HI455W Special Subject: Atlantic Encounters: Western Africa and Portugal (Passed)

Are there a limited number of places available?

Yes

One or more of these courses have a limited number of places. Priority access will be given to students for whom this course is compulsory. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for more details on this process.


Course Description

Portugal was on the vanguard of European oceanic navigation and maritime commercial expansion. The by-product of this maritime endeavour was a series of encounters between Europeans and indigenous populations in Africa. The Portuguese were also at the forefront of establishing the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the colonization of the African continent by European powers. This course utilizes translated Portuguese sources to explore cultural contact, trade, and warfare between Portugal and African polities. Our case studies will focus on the kingdoms of Wolof, Benin, Kongo, and Ndongo.

Anyone approaching the pre-colonial history of coastal Western Africa becomes reliant on Portuguese sources. In this course we will read a range of Portuguese travel narratives, Royal chronicles, ecclesiastical records, and a wide range of visual sources. At the same time, we will challenge the Eurocentric nature of our source base by recovering indigenous perspectives through diplomatic correspondence from African rulers to the Portuguese crown and through a range of non-archival sources.

Assessment will include a primary source analysis, a visual source analysis, and an exam.


Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 2 Seminars during University weeks 8 - 18

More Information about Week Numbers


Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Summative Assessments

Take Home Exam

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 60
Assessment Weeks 20 Feedback Weeks 24

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

8 days to complete (online)

Feedback will be in the form of email notification of marks with comments.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualAnalyseUnderstand the histories of key pre-colonial kingdoms of Wolof, Benin, Kongo, and Ndongo and contextualise growing power imbalances during the early modern period.
ConceptualEvaluateBe able to identify and analyse African perspectives through close readings of archival and non-textual sources.
ConceptualEvaluateBe able to analyse and critically engage with early Portuguese sources for the history of pre-colonial West Africa.
FactualAnalyseUnderstand the chronology of Portuguese contact with African societies in the early modern period.

Primary Source Gobbet Exercise

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 20
Assessment Weeks 13 Feedback Weeks 15

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

Feedback will be in the form of email notification of marks with comments; general remarks in class and on MyAberdeen; and via one, individual face-to-face meeting with each student with feedback on the exercise (and more generally).

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualEvaluateBe able to analyse and critically engage with early Portuguese sources for the history of pre-colonial West Africa.
FactualAnalyseUnderstand the chronology of Portuguese contact with African societies in the early modern period.

Visual Source Gobbet Exercise

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 20
Assessment Weeks 17 Feedback Weeks 19

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

Feedback will be in the form of email notification of marks with comments; general remarks on class and on MyAberdeen; and via one, individual face-to-face meeting with each student with feedback on the exercise (and more generally).

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualEvaluateBe able to identify and analyse African perspectives through close readings of archival and non-textual sources.
FactualAnalyseUnderstand the chronology of Portuguese contact with African societies in the early modern period.

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualAnalyseUnderstand the histories of key pre-colonial kingdoms of Wolof, Benin, Kongo, and Ndongo and contextualise growing power imbalances during the early modern period.
FactualAnalyseUnderstand the chronology of Portuguese contact with African societies in the early modern period.
ConceptualEvaluateBe able to identify and analyse African perspectives through close readings of archival and non-textual sources.
ConceptualEvaluateBe able to analyse and critically engage with early Portuguese sources for the history of pre-colonial West Africa.

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