Readings and Viewings

African Foundations

Unit 1

Topics: Introductions, Syllabus overview & Map of Africa

Material: Heritagepoem by Countee Cullen

Intro. questions

Discussion: What does Africa mean to you?  What is the African Diaspora?

Unit 2

Topics: What is folklore?

Material: What Is Folklife and Why Study It

                   General Categories of Folklore

Discussion: What are the categories of Folklore?

Unit 3

Topic: The Glory that was Africa

Material: “The Glory That Was Africa” Chapter 1 from Black History by Norman E.W. Hodges (in class handout)

Discussion: Why was the greatness of African people and their cultures distorted by the White West?

Unit 4

Topic:  West African Cultures and the role of slavery


  1. “Roots” Episode 1
  2. Chapter 1 from Black History by Norman E.W. Hodges (material from prior week)
  3. Akan and Yoruba Pantheon of Deities (power point presentation)

Discussion: What role did European directed enslavement of Africans play in the modern diaspora of Africans and their cultures in the Americas?

Cultures of Resistance

Unit 5

Topic: Into the Americas


  1. New Worlds in the Americas: Labor, Commerce, and the Columbian Exchange” pp 52-62 by Corbett
  2. The Middle Passage from Africana Folklore by Prof. James
  3. “Chapter 1” from  A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (in class handout)

Discussion: Must the progress of some be at the expense of others?

Unit 6



  1. “Chapter 3” from  Africana Folklore by Stephen James
  2.  “Quilombo” (Movie)

Discussion: What role did African Folklore play in Africans resistance to slavery in Brazil?

Unit 7

Topic:  Martinique

Material: “Sugar Cane Alley” (Movie)

Discussion: How did the perpetuation of African Folkloric history help African disaporic people to survive French colonialism?

Unit 8

Topic:  St. Vincent/Central America

Material: “The Garifuna Journey” (Documentary)

Discussion: What role can Folkloric history play in the maintenance of identity?

Unit 9



  1. Campbell, Horace. “The Rastafarians in the Eastern Caribbean” Caribbean Quarterly, December 1, 1980, Vol 26 (4), p. 42-61. (NYCCT Library Access: Log in with barcode from ID required, if off campus )
  2. Ho, Christine G. T. “Popular Culture and the Aesthetization of Politics: Hegemonic Struggle and Postcolonial Nationalism in Trinidad Carnival”. Transforming Anthropology, January 2000, Vol.9 (1), pp.3-18. (NYCCT Library Access: Log in with barcode from ID required, if off campus
  3. “Nanny of the Maroons” (Documentary)

Discussion: How has the perpetuation of African folklore helped to shape postcolonial societies?

Unit 10



  1. Scott Corbett, P. at all. (2017) “The Spanish American War and Oversees Empire,” OpenStax (Pdf) [CHECK THE LINK!]
  2. Only read and print Chapter 22, Section 2, pages 640-646.
  3. de la Fuente, Alejandro. “The Resurgence of Racism in Cuba,” NACLA 3, 6 (May 2001): 29-49.(NYCCT Library Access: Log in with barcode from ID required, if off campus )
  4. Puerto Rican Culture through Music, Bomba, Plena and Jibara (YouTube)
  5. La Santeria in Matanzas Cuba, An Interview with Alfredo Calvo (YouTube)

Discussion: What role did Africana Folklore play in resistance to oppression in Cuba and Puerto Rico?

Unit 11

Topic: Haiti

Materials: “Egalite for All”  (Video Documentary)

Discussion: How did African folklore inspire Haitians to fight for freedom?

Unit 12

Topic: Resistance to Slavery in the USA

Materials: “Sankofa” (Movie)

Discussion: How did African Folklore influence resistance in the USA?

Unit 13

Topic: The Low Country Resistance Culture

Material: “Daughters of the Dust” (Movie)

Discussion: What role does African Filklore play in indentity formation of African people?

Unit 14



2 thoughts on “Readings and Viewings”

  1. To what extent are we shaped by what we live for and what we desire?

    Typically our identity is shape by our early home environment imprint and the influences of our coming of age (13-21 years) period. There is the old adage that you are what you eat, wear and listen to that shapes what you live for. In other words, it is the cultural influences that engulf you and that which you embrace. The evolution of my identity as a Brooklyn-born was shaped in what was referred to as a “melting pot” society during my coming of age era. A cultural hodge-podge mix of American, Caribbean, and West & South African blends with Latin American influences that permeates my identity has created my life’s ethos.
    The desires that shapes and manifests who we are may be independent of the influences of culture. In some traditional patriarchal worldly cultures, they may dictate your desires; than you lose control of influencing that outcome. When one is in pursuit of their desires, wants and dreams like a challenging career that phenomenon could have a profound shaping of an identity and one’s life. Therefore, we are shaped by what we live for and what our desires may be even if our desires do not come to full fruition.

  2. The extent we are shape to what we live for and what we desire has no limit because we prepare ourselves for things we want in life. It’s like we are practicing to make our lives “perfect” indicating for how we want to live our lives in the future. For example, people work hard to make a good living, have money for generations, and to live somewhere nice. Also if we have an important cultural background what we learn from our culture help us shape into specific things in life.

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