Osei-Opare’s article tells a new history of the Cold War, of Ghana’s early postcolonial foreign policy, and the formation of Ghana’s national identity through its diplomatic, economic, and migratory relationship with the USSR during Kwame Nkrumah’s government (1957–66). Through examining English and Russian sources from American, British, Ghanaian, and Russian archives, this article offers three arguments. First, by analyzing Soviet anxieties over its role in Ghanaian affairs, the article shows that Ghana significantly controlled the economic and diplomatic contours and pace of its relationship with the USSR. Second, that discourses of race and neocolonialism were more central to defining the terms of Ghana’s geopolitical positioning than the Cold War framework. Third, the virulent racism Ghanaians experienced in the United States and USSR helped forge a global Ghanaian national consciousness. The article illuminates an independent black state’s attempts to procure sovereignty against a white supremacist economic and political international order and calls for Cold War scholars to engage seriously with African archives alongside non-African ones to create more dynamic, representational historical accounts.
Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments is an exploratory, experimental history of the lives of young black women in northern cities in the early twentieth century. Its author, Saidiya Hartmann, had just won a MacArthur “genius” grant for her innovative scholarship when we sat down to discuss the book earlier this month. I think that it was at this moment that the seven students in History 5410 Race and Gender in Modern America really gelled. The day’s student seminar-leaders guided us through a provocative, wide-ranging discussion about how Hartmann’s method beautifully evoked the inner worlds of women largely invisible in the historical record where they mostly appear as statistics in sociologies of the ghetto, names on police blotters, or case files of detention centers. We considered what Hartmann taught us about these young women’s lives with her method that we might not have understood otherwise and discussed whether or not this was a method that graduate students in history might want to embrace.
Hartmann’s book is
among a set of histories of race and gender in the U.S. since 1877 that the
course includes. We have read about miscegenation, farmworkers and migrants, and
women’s employment and “economic citizenship” and are moving on to
civil rights, conservative politics of the family, and mass incarceration. Katie,
a first-year doctoral student in the department, comments that “I have
never explored race and gender exclusively in a course and the well-selected
readings and discussions have forced me to re-evaluate my preconceived notions
of both of these concepts. This class has challenged me to really understand
how race and gender construct one another in today’s world.” Grace
Campagna, a senior history major, echoes the point, observing that “The
biggest takeaway from the class so far has been seeing the range of ways that
those in power have used race and gender to construct and uphold social,
political, and economic systems.”
The seminar is
based in a student-centered pedagogy. Will Hogue, a second-year doctoral
student, says that “Dr. Swinth’s commitment to experimenting with new and
more democratic pedagogical methods has been very rewarding.” He adds, “The
collaborative syllabus model gives the students not only the chance to tailor
the course to their personal needs and goals, but also the chance to practice
some lesson planning and course construction. In all, it has been helpful for
our development both as scholars and teachers.” In fact, the class just
completed a collaborative process to set the topics for the last four weeks of
the seminar, all chosen by students to reflect their interests and to pursue
questions that have arisen in the first part of the course.
At its most basic, this course investigates the ways that race and gender have shaped what it is like to live in the United States today. It draws upon the field of history and the skills, talents, and creativity of committed graduate students (and an accompanying professor) to explore the key categories and mechanisms that have made race and gender “tick” in American culture and society since Reconstruction. In many it is a traditional graduate readings seminar. Course readings analyze how these key, intersecting categories shaped American politics, economy, culture, state, and criminal justice system. But beyond that, the seminar’s deeper goal is to follow the class’s collective interests. What do class members, as individuals, and the class, as a group, want to understand better and more deeply about the history of race and gender in the U.S.? This course is as an opportunity to figure out why learning about this topic matters to comprehending U.S. history, why it matters to students (personally, professionally, as citizens/contributors), and why it matters to the larger world, future students, and other audiences we have yet to identify.
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Right now, all over the country, college campuses are the sites of debate and protest over questions of history, identity, privilege, and inclusion. The timing could not be better for a graduate course in the History department which addresses these questions head-on. That is why we are particularly excited to announce that this coming Spring semester Professor Kirsten Swinth will be teaching a new course entitled “Race and Gender in Modern America,” Professor Swinth sat down with us and talked about her ideas for the course, including the book that will be the starting point for the conversation, and her “student-led” approach to the development of the course themes and readings. You can watch her comments below. We found it incredibly inspiring to hear someone speak so passionately and eloquently about the role that history can play in confronting some of the greatest challenges to our society. We bet you will too.
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On July 2 Professor Silvana Patriarca will be delivering one of two keynote lectures at a conference in Cagliari, Sardinia. The conference, which is sponsored by SISSCO (the Italian Society for Contemporary History), deals with Italy’s colonial inheritance. The title of Patriarca’s talk will be “Dopoguerra in bianco e nero: ‘razza’ e Chiesa cattolica nell’Italia postfascista” (” Postwar in Black and White: ‘Race’ and the Catholic Church in Postfascist Italy”).
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As registration for Fall graduate courses is upon us, we will be profiling the courses offered in the department in Fall 2015. Professor Silvana Patriarca will be offering a new course, HIST 5561 Nationalisms and Racisms in Modern Europe. The course deals with an exciting area of research currently being explored by Professor Patriarca and some of her students. Read on for a description of the course and what can be expected for those who enroll. Continue reading →
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This semester, the History Department at Fordham University will be holding a seminar series on the topic of Science, Technology, Environment, and Medicine. The seminar highlights exciting new areas of research and brings together Fordham faculty with strengths in these fields with outside speakers and commentators. Our first meeting will on at 4:30PM on February 14 in room 1019 of the Lowenstein building on the Lincoln Center Campus. Our discussion will focus on the work of Dr. Projit Mukharji of the University of Pennsylvania, whose paper (abstract and paper below) is entitled “Race by Another Name: Vernacular Race Science, Caste and the Making of Serosocial Identities in India, c. 1918-60”. Continue reading →
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