Spring 2022 - HIST 231 D100

History of Africa to the 19th Century: From Ancient Times to the Slave Trade (3)

Class Number: 4633

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 8:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    WMC 3220, Burnaby



A general, introductory survey of Africa's rich pre-colonial past, its vibrant cultures and sophisticated technologies, far-reaching commercial and political networks, and dynamic (and internally differentiated) social systems. Also discusses the trans-Atlantic trade in African slaves and the arrival of Europeans on African shores. Breadth-Humanities.


Stories in Ancient and Medieval Africa: Glyphs, Griots, Art, and Cultural Materials

In this class we will explore African experiences in early history, from the Kingdoms of the Nile through to the Atlantic trade era, focusing on transformations and early globalization in African societies. How did people learn, pass down, and recount important stories, and what roles did history play in local communities, regional politics, and international relations? Students will be introduced to diverse topics including: early states in Egypt and Meroë, metallurgy and the Bantu expansion, introduction and spread of Islam and Christianity, Saharan and Sahelian trade routes, Muslim trading societies of the Swahili coast, pastoral kingdoms of highland southern Africa, Northern Africa and the Ottoman World, West/Central African kingdoms and the rise of Atlantic Trade, and early white settler societies in Southern Africa. Students will also learn about how scholars have used and understood sources of the African past, including documents, oral histories, linguistics, artwork, monuments and materials. In lectures and tutorials we will draw information from a textbook as well as primary sources, scholarly articles, African literature, film, and current news sources to gain multiple perspectives on Africa’s rich ancient and medieval past.


  • Tutorial Participation (incl. 5% geography quiz) 25%
  • Student Job 5%
  • Midterm Quiz 20%
  • Written/Creative Project 25%
  • Final Quiz 25%



  • Robert Harms, Africa in Global History, WW Norton, 2018
  • Djibril Tamsir Niane, Sundiata: An Epic Of Old Mali, 2nd Ed., Pearson, 2006.
  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. (any edition)

Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

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