What is Africa To Me?

Abena Busia (English)

This seminar will focus on the different ways in which Africa is
“remembered,” as legacy and metaphor, as well is in the practice of daily
living in unexpected ways, in the United States. A central part of this course
will be a field trip to the African Burial Ground National Monument, the
Nation’s earliest known African American cemetery, in official use from
1712-1794. In 1991, during the excavations in Lower Manhattan for the New
Federal Building, a large burial ground containing the remains of more
than four hundred 17th and 18th century Africans was unearthed. The
research that subsequently followed established the profound role Africans
played in the making of New York and the building of the New World. The
exhumed bodies were re-interred in 2003, and this heritage site has now
become a memorial to those unnamed people and testament to the history
they made. We will take a guided tour of the Memorial and site. In the
seminar, through reading essays such as Sheila Walker’s “Everyday Africa in
New Jersey: Wonderings and Wanderings in the African Diaspora,” which
discusses West and Central African Linguistic Roots of such expressions as
“hip,” “dig” and “jive;” trying out the recipes in Jessica Harris’ cookbooks;
listening to the music suggested by Paule Marshall’s novel Praisesong for
the Widow; and watching documentary films such as The Language You
Cry In as well as feature films such as Daughters of the Dust, we will come
to appreciate the multiple ways in which the arrival of Africans in America
has shaped the everyday lives of people in the New World, and continues
to do so.

Course Number: 
01:090:101 section 38 index 07685