AAS 102: CULTURAL CROSS-CURRENTS
IN THE AFRICAN DIASPORA

Assignments


FIRST ESSAY | SECOND ESSAY | FINAL PAPER



FIRST ESSAY (20%)

Due:  February 13th
Required Length:  3-5 PAGES

(A MICROSOFT WORD VERSION OF THIS ASSIGNMENT CAN BE FOUND HERE)

CRITICAL REVIEW

In the past three weeks, we have had a series of lectures built upon a sequence of texts designed to introduce us to the intellectual and political history of African American Studies. In this assignment, I would like you to select any one of the texts that we have read so far and do a critical review of it.

In doing the critical review, you will be guided by the following questions:

  • What is the main thesis of the text?
  • What is the core argument that the author deploys to support the main thesis?
  • What subsidiary arguments are there to further support the author's point of view?
  • What explicit assumptions does the author say are at the bottom of her arguments?
  • What implicit assumptions can you identify in the text but which the author has not made explicit?
  • How well do you think that the author's argument(s) support the thesis of the text?
  • If you think that the author's argument(s) do not fully or strongly support the thesis, give reasons why you think so. If you think the opposite is the case, give reasons why you think so.
  • Do you like the text, the thesis, the argument(s)? If so, why? If not, why not?

    In doing this review, I do not want you to consult any materials outside of the text that you are reviewing other than what you have garnered from the class lectures so far.

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SECOND ESSAY (25%)

Due:  March 27th
Required Length:  6-8 PAGES

(A MICROSOFT WORD VERSION OF THIS ASSIGNMENT CAN BE FOUND HERE)

RESEARCH PAPER

Choose ONE Topic:

1. The idea of 'Whiteness Studies' is incoherent. Discuss.

2. "What does hair have to do with it?" Critically examine this statement with reference to the politics of appearance in a racialized society.

3. There are no black people; there are no white people; just us folks and we happen to disagree about a whole lot of things. Discuss.

4. What is 'racial formation'? How might it help us to make sense of social phenomena in the Caribbean and/or Brazil?

5. No scheme of racial classification can be scientific? Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.

6. Critically examine the role that 'Western Philosophy' has played in evolution of doctrines of white supremacy in the world.

7. Any other topic chosen by you and approved by the instructor.


FINAL PAPER

Due:  May 7th
Required Length:  12-15 PAGES

(A MICROSOFT WORD VERSION OF THIS ASSIGNMENT CAN BE FOUND HERE)

Choose ONE Topic

1. A critical examination of the relation between black nationalism and pan-africanism.

2. Parallels between the underdevelopment of Black America and that of Africa.

3. Might the ghost of Jim Crow still be lurking in University of Virginia's hallways and offices? Discuss with reference to recent debates about racism, affirmative action and related issues at the University of Virginia.

4. Politics can only deform art; politics cannot advance art. Discuss with reference to a specific form of art and its relation to black nationalist, pan-africanist, or any other form of politics.

5. Examine the motif of "a chosen people" in African-American religion or in African independent churches or in other religions created by Africans in the Americas.

6. The influence of Yorb religion in various aspects of life in the Atlantic World.

7. Any other topic chosen by you and approved by the instructor.

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