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Unit information: After Empire (Level I Special Field) in 2015/16

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Unit name After Empire (Level I Special Field)
Unit code HIST20081
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lewis
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

In this unit we examine visions of post-colonial futures in the context of decolonisation and the Cold War in Asia and Africa. We look at transnational connections between Asians, Africans, and African-Americans at this time, looking closely at documents of various international conferences related to the making of the so-called 'Third World'. We examine the motivations of the emerging players at these conferences from Egypt, India, China, Indonesia, and Burma (Nasser, Nehru, Sukarno, Chou En-lai, U Nu). We look at the engagement of African-American artists and intellectuals with Asia and Africa as it related to the quest for civil rights at home. We pay close attention to works of literature and poetry emerging from Asia and Africa during this time, and examine the interactions between activists and intellectuals seeking to create new visions of the nation on a world stage. Ultimately, we ask why the project of the Third World failed, while being attentive to the international origins of civil society and post-colonial culture in this period.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed 1. a broad awareness of the major developments in decolonisation in the second half of the twentieth century; 2. a deep understanding of how competing visions of decolonisation interacted with political realities to shape events when independence was achieved; 3. the ability to set individual issues within their longer term historical context; 4. the ability to analyse and generalise about issues of continuity and change; 5. the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points; 6. the ability to derive benefit from and contribute effectively to large group discussion; 7. the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint; 8. the acquisition of key writing, research, and presentation skills.

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour seminar

Assessment Information

2-hour unseen written examination (summative, 100%)

The examination will assess ILOs 1-8 by assessing the students’ understanding of the unit’s key themes, the related historiography as developed during their reading and participation in / learning from small group seminars, and relevant primary sources. Further assessment of their handling of the relevant primary sources will be provided by the co-requisite Special Field Project.

Reading and References

  • VJ Prashad, A People's History of the Third World (2008)
  • Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War (2007)
  • CJ Lee ed. Making a World After Empire: The Bandung Moments and its political afterlives (2010)
  • Penny Von Eschen, Race against empire: black Americans and anti-colonialism 1937-1957 (1997)
  • Frederick Cooper, Africa since 1940 (2002)
  • Tony Day and Maya Liem, Cultures at War: The Cold War and Cultural Expression in Southeast Asia (2010)