Spring 2020 - HIST 472W D100

Problems in World History (4)


Class Number: 9022

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 9, 2020: Fri, 9:30 a.m.–1:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history.



An advanced examination into the concepts and methodology of world history. Selected themes may include globalization, modernization, migration, religious expansion, colonialism, imperialism, and the teaching of world history. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 472W may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught. Writing.


Slavery and Unfreedom in World History

This course is a global survey of slavery from ancient times to the present day. We will address important themes in the study of slavery such as definitions, historical sources, slave-trading routes, imperialism and slavery, resistance to slavery, and abolition.

Most studies of slavery overwhelmingly focus on the Atlantic plantation systems and the United States, limiting the scope of inquiry about the nature of slavery and freedom. This course addresses the Atlantic plantation system as one chapter in a long history of slavery and “unfreedom” in world history; geographically topics range from ancient Rome, China, the Black Sea, the Indian Ocean, pre-colonial America, west Africa, and the Caribbean. While focusing on specific regions, we explore thematic issues such culture, religion, narrative, and gender. We address major topics in the study of slavery from antiquity to the present day by reading primary sources from people who experienced, witnessed, or were involved in slavery and abolition as well as recent scholarship about slavery in world history.

Through readings, classroom discussions, and writing, we will address and contest the meaning of slavery and freedom in relation to one another and challenge the notion that slavery has existed in a binary opposition to freedom. This course asks students to articulate the practical and rhetorical connections between slavery and indentured servitude, peonage, and convict labor. In the final weeks of class, we will consider contemporary forms of slavery and the challenges of abolition.

As a writing intensive seminar, students will design and complete a research paper on a topic about slavery in world history that makes use of primary source materials.


  • Attendance and Participation 15%
  • Midterm Essay 20%
  • Research Paper Pre-submission Assignments 30%
  • Research Paper Final 20%
  • Final Essay 15%



Epstein, Steven A. Speaking of Slavery: Color, Ethnicity, and Human Bondage in Italy. Cornell University Press, 2018.

Ali, Omar H. Malik Ambar: Power and Slavery across the Indian Ocean. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Getz, Trevor A. and Liz Clarke. Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Curtin, Philip D. The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Beacon Press, 1995.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html