I am asking you to read, digest and be prepared to be tested on the 4 documents listed below. This introduction will help you to contextualize the documents.
Through my study of history I have emerged with a number of useful concepts that are relevant to this course and which I will elaborate on in this class. Here I would like to summarize them for you.
1. The Concept of Multiple Histories
History is almost always written by the powerful, the conquerors, not the powerless or the conquered. Consequently, history tends to be biased. We must correct this bias by insisting on multiple histories: as in my-story, her-story, their-story, our-story.
2. The Concept of the Conjuncture of Fortuitously Propitious Historical
The powerful, the conquerors will have you believe that their power is rooted in their own genetic makeup (that is that they are a naturally superior people born to rule, dominate exploit, etc. others). Whereas the truth is that this power and domination is an outcome of being in the right place at the right time. In other words, no group of human beings (by whatever means you categorize them: race, class, gender, etc.) have a monopoly over intelligence and creativity. If they did have such a monopoly then how come they or their empire and civilizations are no longer with us today. (Examples: the Egyptian Civilization, the Greek Civilization, Roman Empire, the Chinese Civilization, the Byzantium Empire, the Islamic Empire, the Aztec Civilization, The British Empire, the Soviet Empire, etc.) In other words, civilizations or empires are not preordained--whether by nature or God. Today the dominant civilization is the Western Civilization, but will it last forever? History tells us that the answer is no, but only time will tell.
3. The Concept of the Conjuncture of Fortuitously Propitious Biographical
The above concept can also be applied to individuals, but with a slight qualification in that genetic intelligence does count to a limited extent. Consequently, no individual is naturally born to be a leader or a ruler, etc. Any one of us has that potential if we are born with intelligence, but in the right place and at the right time--in terms of childhood experiences, experiences in adulthood, etc.
4. The Natural Law of Prior Claim.
Those who come first have priority in claims over disputed lands than those who come later. That is why we believe that Africa belongs to the Africans, Europe belongs to Europeans, India belongs to the Indians, China belongs to the Chinese, etc. Yet, in the case of the Americas (for example) this Law has been openly flouted by Europeans on no other grounds then the ability to inflict decisive violence.
5. The Concept of Appropriation
Appropriation is a fancy word for stealing and then claiming that it has always belonged to you. Conquerors tend to appropriate everything: property (such as land), culture (such as language and music), and even knowledge and ideas. Some examples of appropriation: Euro-Americans appropriating African-American music; Europeans appropriating Native American lands; Europeans appropriating Islamic knowledge and culture during the latter half of the Middle Ages.
6. The Concept of Current History
From the perspective of human affairs the past is not always the past. Rather the past is always present with us. Why? Because the present is always a product of the past (just as the future is always a product of the present). In other words, no history, no present. That is why our identity as a person, as a family, as a society, as a nation, as a people, etc. is always determined by our history. The best way to erase an identity of a people is to erase their history; the conquerors know this.
7. The Concept of Race as a Social Construction
The powerful create divisions among human beings in order to dominate, exploit them, etc. Race is one such division. The race one belongs to is artificially created; nature (and/or God) does not recognize this division; that is nature has constructed only one race: the human race. If we take the two dominant "races" in North America today: blacks and whites, they were created by Europeans after Columbus. Before Columbus there was no white race, instead there was the French race, the English race, the German race, the Irish race, etc. Before Columbus there was no black race, instead there was the Zulu race, the Yoruba race, the Hausa race, etc.
The articles below elaborate on some of these concepts. You must down
load the articles you have been assigned as per your readings/test schedule.
As usual, read them in their entirety, comprehend them, digest them and
be prepared to be tested on them.
Instructions for Accessing the Documents
(a) Click on each of the highlighted headings below to get to the appropriate documents. When you are through with a document click on your browser's navigational "back" button, probably located at the very top of your screen on the menu bar, to get back to this page.
(b) Make sure that you see the entire document on your screen (by scrolling through the whole document from beginning to end) before you click on the print button. This will ensure that you print all pages of a document.
(c) Advice: do not use your home computer to print these documents; use the computers in school.
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