This guide is designed to help students find sources for research on Africa's civil wars and the writing and histories surrounding them.
There is ongoing unrest across the African continent. Historians are perplexed because Africa’s independence and decolonization were supposed to bring peace and prosperity, and henceforth scholarship reflected this desire and promise. This seminar challenges students to move beyond the rhetoric of political conflict in Africa that extends from realities of failed states and underdevelopment and instead understand these current struggles as crises of historiography. In short, what does a contemporary history of Africa look like with the concept of civil war? Course participants will seek to understand the ongoing conflict in Central African Republic and South Sudan within a larger historical context of civil war in post-independent Africa. Through shared readings and discussions, students will use primary and secondary sources to consider possible causes for civil unrest in Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone, the actors and interests involved, proposed resolutions, and their immediate and long-term effects. By tracing a historiography of civil war in African historical and political discourse and by analyzing possible methodological complications, students will grapple with how real world experiences and acts of violence translate into historical narratives, the very politics of historical revisionism.