The African Past and Us: How African History can provide new ways to understand the present

Presented by Mariana Candido
The African past continues to be marginal to our understanding of the present. African societies and states are portrayed as underdeveloped, primitive, and backward, despite a rich scholarship that proves the opposite. This erroneous image creates stereotypes about Africa and African descendants, affecting our communities and our classrooms. This seminar introduces the history of the peoples of Africa and will problematize the creation of images about Africa and Africans in the past 200 years. We will examine African states and societies before contact with Europeans and how their experiences affect us in the twentieth-first century. The origins of Islam, the Atlantic slave trade, and European explorers and missionaries receive attention mainly in their African aspects. The emphasis on Africa in this seminar provides a valuable alternative perspective on these, and other, seemingly familiar events. Participants will have a chance to explore how media influences the ways we think about the African past and will leave the course knowing much more about Africa’s history than what is available on newspapers or television. This knowledge will be valuable to understand the African past, include it in our classroom teaching, as well as to have a better understanding of the world where we live in.

The first section will focus on people and civilizations indigenous to Africa and their interaction with the outside world before 1700. We will visit the African gallery at the Snite Museum to examine the links between material culture, spirituality, and global interactions.

The second section we will explore the impact of the transatlantic slave trade on African societies and its ramification. We will discuss primary source and digital tools that can be easily incorporated into the classroom. Participants will have access to the newest and best historical findings about African history, its peoples and languages, as well as to unresolved areas and debates among historians. 



About Mariana Candido

Mariana Candido is an Associate Professor of African History, University of Notre Dame. Her research deals on the economic, social and cultural history of Angola in the seventeenth to the  nineteenth century. Her publications include An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World: Benguela and its Hinterland (Cambridge University Press, 2013); which received an honorable mention in the competition for the Herskovits prize/ African Studies Association. She has also published Fronteras de Esclavización: Esclavitud, Comercio e Identidad en Benguela, 1780-1850 (Colegio de Mexico Press, 2011), which has been translated into Portuguese and published in Angola, Fronteras da Escravidão (Benguela: Universidade Katyavala Bwila, 2018). Candido is finishing a book on the history of property in Angola during the nineteenth century. Candido has co-edited with Adam Jones, African Women in the Atlantic World. Property, Vulnerability and Mobility, 1680-1880(James Currey, 2019); Carlos Liberato, Paul Lovejoy and Renée Soulodre-La France, Laços Atlânticos: África e africanos durante a era do comércio transatlântico de escravos (Museu Nacional da Escravatura/ Ministério da Cultura, 2017); and Crossing Memories: Slavery and African Diaspora, with Ana Lucia Araujo and Paul Lovejoy (African World Press, 2011). Her articles have been published in Slavery and AbolitionHistory in Africa, Canadian Journal of African Studies, Social Sciences and MissionsTempoPortuguese Studies ReviewJournal of Eighteenth-Century Studies, Afro-Ásia, African Economic History, Cahier des anneux de la mémoire, Luso-Brazilian Review, Saeculum, Brésil (s), Sciences humaines et sociales, and edited volumes. Candido is one of the editors of African Economic History. The journal publishes scholarly essays in English and French on economic history of African societies from precolonial times to the present. It features research in a variety of fields and time periods, including studies on labor; slavery; trade and commercial networks; economic transformations; colonialism; migration; development policies; social and economic inequalities and poverty. The audience includes historians, economists, anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, policymakers, and a range of other scholars interested in the African present and past.