ANSO/AFST 426 Lest we Forget: Memory and Identity in the African Diaspora of New Orleans
Taught by: Dr. Baptiste
Location: ULC 301
Phone Number: 269.337.7242
Mondays – 1:00-3:00
Wednesdays – 9:30-11:00
And by appointment
Lest We Forget: Memory and Identity in the African Diaspora
What is memory? What is identity? And how do we understand the relationship between these two concepts, particularly for communities once defined as commodities? Research suggests the significance of origins in the formation of individual and collective identity. However, for the African Diaspora, heritage, roots, and associated memory are traversed by trauma and displacement engendered by slavery, the middle passage, and contemporary structural oppressions. This course explores the different labors that slavery and the memory of slavery perform in the development of New Orleans as a city and the relationship between its composite populations.
This course participates in the Mellon-funded Humanities Integrated Locational Learning (HILL) curriculum and contributes to a “Beyond Kalamazoo” Cluster focused on New Orleans with three other courses: ARTX225 Public Art and Its Publics (Dr. Christine Hahn), ENGL490: NOLA Divided: Race in the Big Easy (Dr. Shanna Salinas), and SEMN295/MUSC295 The World Through New Orleans (Dr. Beau Bothwell). While these courses will function independently, they are united by their engagement with New Orleans as a historical and contemporary site, as well as the way they draw from humanistic inquiry to construct justice-based notions of land, place, and belonging in response to humanistic concerns and social inequities (i.e., systemic racism, body and border policing, economic inequity, global warming, etc.). Students registered for the New Orleans cluster courses are eligible to apply for a partial-unit experiential social justice research seminar in New Orleans (November 26th – December 2nd, 2022). More details on the seminar and application process are included on page 9 of the syllabus.
Hannah-Jones, Nikole, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman, and Jake Silverstein. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. First edition. New York: One World, 2021.
Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, and Hazel V. Carby. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon Press, 2015
Johnson Walter. Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market. Cambridge: Harvard University Press., 1999
Articles and book chapters are available on the course Moodle page
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|Memory and Identity essay||15%|
If you have a disability and qualify for accommodation or other assistance in this course, please contact me as soon as possible. Kalamazoo College is committed to making every effort to provide reasonable accommodations. If you want to discuss your overall needs for accommodation at the college, please direct questions to the Associate Dean of Students Office at 269.337.7209. Additional information regarding accommodations can be found on the Resources for Students with Disabilities website.
Attendance and Class Participation
If you have any concerns or issues that may interfere with attendance—for example, if you are a student-athlete or have an upcoming religious observance—please let me know at the beginning of the course.
This class is, first and foremost, an intellectual community. As a member of any community, you must be present, actively participate, and contribute towards the overall course goals. I expect you to:
- Be on time and ready to go at the beginning of class;
- Come to class with hard copies of your reading, reading notes, and questions;
- Contribute meaningfully to the class discussion.
- Participation also means attentively listening to your colleagues. It is ok to disagree with your colleagues, but you must allow others the space to express their opinions. Like any other community, I expect you to respect and support one another.
You may miss two classes without penalty or excuse. Please plan accordingly. Missing five or more classes will result in an automatic failing grade for the class.
Although attendance is essential to your learning, we must be mindful of the well-being of others; if you have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19, please follow the College’s COVID-19 guidelines. Health-related absences will, of course, be excused.
College Honor System and Academic Honesty
This course operates under the College’s Honor System. That means: we treat each other with respect, we nurture independent thought, we take responsibility for personal behavior, and we accept environmental responsibility. Additionally, academic honesty is a critical part of our value system at K. When you borrow an idea, express it in your own words, thus thinking it through and making it your own, you need to acknowledge the source of the idea with a citation. In certain situations, it is appropriate to use the exact words of the reading in quotation marks and provide the appropriate citation. Ideas raised in class are part of the public domain, and, therefore, you do not need to cite classroom discussions. If you are ever in doubt about this, ask! Visit the Student Development website for more information on the College’s Honor system.
Assignment Extensions and Late Assignments
The assignment deadlines are structured in a way to keep you advancing in this course and to ensure that the work is spread out and balanced. Each deadline is a hard deadline, meaning that is when the assignment should be completed. I am happy to give extensions with no grade penalty (up to one week after the allotted deadline) for any assignment. Please email me at least 24 hours before the deadline if you will be requesting an extension. In that email exchange, we will arrange for and finalize a new deadline. I will accept late assignment submissions only if an extension was requested. If you are unable to complete the assignment by the new deadline, I will accept a late submission up to two weeks after the original deadline, with a full letter grade reduction.
Communication and Contact
I encourage you to come to office hours, whether you have a specific question, want to discuss something from class, or say hello. I hope to see you at least once throughout the semester, in addition to the mandatory meeting to discuss your paper topic. If my posted office hours do not work with your schedule, please email me, and we can work out an appointment. Email is good for emergencies or to schedule an appointment, but not very useful for substantive questions – for these, office hours work best. Please keep in mind that I am unlikely to read and respond to emails on nights and weekends.
The success of this class is heavily dependent on all of us coming to class having read and thought about the assigned readings. To that end, you will hand in reading notes for each day’s readings. Your posts are due by midnight on the day before we discuss the readings. Depending on the length of the quotes, each set of notes will probably be two pages, single-spaced. Any reading notes posted late (after class) will not be accepted. You can miss two sets of reading notes over the course of the quarter without penalty. Please make sure to let me know when you decide to take your free reading notes to make sure you are credited appropriately.
Reading notes should include the following sections:
- MAIN POINTS. 2-3 quotes per article or chapter assigned that encapsulate the article or chapter’s main argument. You must type the quotes (no screenshots) and provide the page numbers. Note: If, for example, three (3) chapters or articles are assigned, you need 2-3 quotes per chapter.
- MAKING SENSE OUT OF THE READINGS. 1-2 paragraph response to the day’s readings as a whole. These responses should not be in the form of an opinion of the reading–i.e., do not talk about whether or not you liked the reading or your estimation of the writing. Instead, reflect on new insights that emerged for you out of the reading. This paragraph should be a minimum of ½ page single-spaced, longer as the class progresses. Note: You do not need a separate response for each article or chapter assigned; instead, your reflections should be integrative.
- QUESTIONS/ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION. For each set of readings, please include two (2) questions or issues you would like the class to discuss. (Do not construct yes/any questions!) These questions should be insightful and probing, as they may well form the basis of actual class discussions. Ideally, they will push us to use the readings to make sense of things going on in the world today.
- The reading notes will be graded on a credit/no credit scale. I will use the following criteria to assess your reading notes:
- Do your quotations reflect the authors’ main points?
- Have you provided interesting, analytical reflections on those quotations and the readings?
- Do you come up with clear and insightful questions/issues for discussion?
Two times during the quarter, you will be responsible for leading class discussions. Your goal is to engage your peers in a critical discussion of the reading(s). Working with a partner, you will prepare your ideas and be able to talk for about 10-15 minutes with your partner in a manner that moves beyond summarizing. As you read the articles, consider what the author’s argument consists of (the problem statement or thesis.). What data does the author marshal to support this argument? Is it convincing? Why or why not? What key points or details seem particularly striking and why? What limitations, problems with the line of reasoning, or gaps might you see in the piece? Do the authors do what they set out to do? How do the articles relate to the ideas to previous discussions/readings? Are there things you do not understand and would like to discuss? Do the authors do what they set out to do? How do the articles relate to the ideas in discussions/readings? Are there things you do not understand and would like to discuss?
Create a handout (1 page) that summarizes your discussion’s main points. Make copies for each member of the class. Your presentation should include the following:
- A general overview of each author’s goals and assumptions, keeping in mind their academic training, if possible.
- The significance of each reading to our understanding of the African diaspora.
- Relate your articles to other class readings– contextualize
- Two provocative, penetrating questions – That will jumpstart the class discussion
- Do not quiz people on details of dates or names, but rather construct questions that will provoke discussion of the day’s topics.
Memory and Identity Essay
The central idea of this course is that people of African descent are defined by the memory of slavery while often deploying the memory of slavery to make social and political claims to their nations of settlement. For this essay, write a 3-4 page essay (double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12pt font, 1” margins) that explores how memory affects your own identity. How does memory draw the boundaries around your community? Please note, that memories need not be negative or oppressive. How do your memories relate to the national narratives? When do you enter the national narrative? How does the community with which you identify fit in your country’s narrative? Are there conflicts between your community’s narrative of itself and the national narrative? Does your identification with these overlapping narratives ever bring your identity’s two (or more) components into conflict or tension? In short, how does the history of your community and nation impact your sense of belonging?
The objective of the project is to develop an original interpretation of the relationship of memory to some aspects of African diasporic history and culture in New Orleans. Students can choose their projects, but projects must be designed with the assistance and approval of the professor. The research paper should be no less than 20 pages in length. I suggest you use this assignment to start thinking about the project you will be working on during the December experiential experience in New Orleans. I suggest reviewing the websites of our New Orleans community partners as a source of inspiration for ideas and topics for your papers.
Your paper will be evaluated on the following criteria:
- Understanding of the concept, idea, or issue that you have chosen to investigate; and
- Ability to draw upon, analyze and use the knowledge gained from the research in making an argument;
- Clarity of writing (punctuation, grammar, sentence construction, spelling);
- Formatting and style (use of standard in-text citation and referencing system).
Paper Proposal and Bibliography
To facilitate the task of the final project, you will complete two preliminary assignments geared toward developing the final research question and kick-starting the research process.
The first part of the preliminary assignment is a 2-page paper proposal. The proposal will describe the research topic and formulate the research question the paper intends to pursue. When writing the research proposal, imagine the audience as scholars interested in the subject but unfamiliar with it. The goal is to give a good overview of the topic and get the audience excited about the project. Please schedule a meeting to discuss your paper proposal as soon as possible.
The second part of the goal of the bibliography will help you start the research process and begin thinking critically about the different writings on your topic. You will prepare an annotated bibliography of no less than 10 peer-reviewed journal articles on the subject.
You may use class readings as part of your bibliography.
Final paper presentation
During 9th and 10th week, students present the results of their research to the class
Guidelines for Presenters and Discussants
- Please prepare a 5-minute statement on your paper.
- Remember that your classmates have already read the paper so you do not need to go over the whole paper.
- Please read the paper carefully.
- Comments can include, but need not be limited to constructive criticism about the research questions addressed, the theoretical foundations established, the analyses and results presented, and the implications derived as they relate to the readings encountered in class over the course of the quarter.
- Importantly, the bulk of your time as a discussant should be spent stimulating audience interest in the subject and the paper. Whenever possible, I encourage you to assume the role of devil’s advocate by provoking discussion and engaging the rest of the class in the topic. Use the bulk of your time to highlight controversial issues that will stimulate a dialogue.
- Discussants should be as well prepared as the presenters.
- Discussants have 10-minute. Please try to keep your remarks limited to this amount of time so that we have ample class discussion.
- Your engagement with your colleagues’ papers constitutes part of your participation grade.
- For each paper presented, students will prepare a short paragraph with comments, questions, and suggestions for the presenter.
- Please EMAIL your comments paragraphs to both your classmate and myself before the beginning of class.