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Unit information: Pan-Africanism: ideas and archives in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Pan-Africanism: ideas and archives
Unit code MODL30026
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Ruth Bush
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will introduce students to the ideas and cultural expressions of Pan-Africanism. As a political ideology and influential cultural force, Pan-Africanism has had multiple meanings across different linguistic and geographic spaces and historical periods. These range from the powerful reverberations of the Haitian Revolution and the abolition of transatlantic slavery in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to twentieth-century negotiations of Pan-African unity against the backdrop of decolonization and the Cold War, to what is sometimes termed ‘small p’ pan-Africanism, finding contemporary expressions of solidarity in festivals, music, art, literature and film.

Students will study a selection of foundational texts in Pan-African thought (in Portuguese, English and French – translations will be provided where necessary), complemented by a range of cultural objects (literature, film, festivals, music etc.) that encourage critical thinking about this complex and powerful idea through reflection on its archive. This archive includes: documents from the Pan-African Congresses held between 1900 and 1945; film of Pan-African Festivals held between 1966 and the present day; Pan-African print culture such as the journal, Présence Africaine; literary texts of the Harlem Renaissance and négritude movements; cultural material relating to Rastafarianism and Hip-hop; theoretical discussion of Afrocentrism and Afropolitanism, in relation to Pan-Africanism. The unit aims to provide a transnational and multilingual perspective on the plural manifestations and legacies of Pan-Africanism, drawing on this term’s connections to ideas of race, identity, political activism and decolonial thought.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

1. Identify and discuss multiple ideas of Pan-Africanism, through engagement with primary source materials.

2. Respond critically on the intellectual legacies of Pan-Africanism in relation to ideas of race, identity, coloniality and decoloniality (with awareness of distinctions between the anglophone, francophone and lusophone worlds).

3. Evaluate and engage closely with a wide range of cultural objects, including printed archives, film, literature, performance, music, and photography.

4. Demonstrate critical awareness of the theoretical scholarship in this field of study and the ability to analyse this in written and verbal form.

5. Carry out independent research to a high level and present arguments supported by scholarship.

6. Evaluate the individual subjective experience of learning about Pan-Africanism

Teaching details

1 weekly lecture

1 weekly seminar

Assessment Details

Formative group presentations

1 x 2000-word reflective summary (40%) testing ILO's 2&6

1 x 3000-word summative essay (60%) testing ILO's 1,3-6

Reading and References

Sample list


W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Marcus Garvey, Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey

Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to my Native Land

C.L.R. James, Black Jacobins

George Padmore, Pan-Africanism and Communism

Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality

Elaine Brown, A Taste of Power

Manthia Diawara, African Cinema: Politics and Culture

Irele, Abiola, The African Experience in Literature and Ideology

Ali Mazrui, Africanity Redefined: Collected Essays of Ali A. Mazrui

J. Lorand Matory, Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro‚ÄźBrazilian Candomblé

Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Abdourahman Waberi, In the United States of Africa


William Greaves, The First World Festival of Negro Arts

William Klein, The Panafrican Festival of Algiers


Présence Africaine



AWA: La revue de la femme noire