HIST 2556 The Global Congo: Diplomacy, Extraction, and Resistance

HIST 2556 The Global Congo: Diplomacy, Extraction, and Resistance (also ASRC 2556) (HA-AS, HST-AS) (HGS)

Tuesday and Thursday: 11:40-12:55

Professor Rachel Sandwell

The vast Congo Basin region has shaped the world in ways that are often ignored. Its mineral resources travel the globe – the uranium used to bomb Japan in 1945 came from the Congo, and if you have a cellphone, you probably have a bit of the Congo in your pocket. But the region has been a key site for global trade for centuries. More than 400 years ago, diplomats from the mighty Kongo kingdom were stationed in Brazil and Europe, intervening in global affairs. Later, more than seven million enslaved people were forcibly taken from the region, a trade that brought terrible suffering, but also ensured that Congo region culture and politics would shape the Atlantic world. The Congo’s first democratically elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, inspired generations of freedom fighters around the world, and his assassination at the hands of Belgian forces and their Congolese allies (with aid from Canadian soldiers and the CIA) has inspired outrage ever since – and transformed African geopolitics. The Congo was arguably the site of the first struggle for a “second decolonization” on the African continent, and activists have been fighting to democratize the state since the 1960s. It is famed for its novelists, philosophers, musicians, and artists. This course will explore the Congo region’s global influence, and consider how diverse globalizations shaped the region.  (3-credits)

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1853 map of Africa, the remaining Unexplored Region essentially corresponds to the Congo basin