Incorporating Queer History into African History Survey Courses: A Roundtable

AHA Session 288
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History 15
Sunday, January 7, 2018: 11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Thurgood Marshall West (Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level)
Sarah E. Watkins, Ohio State University
Elliot James, University of Minnesota, Morris
Sarah E. Watkins, Ohio State University

Session Abstract

In 2016, the AHA’s Task Force on LGBTQ Historians issued its final report. One recommendation from that report was that the AHA should, in conjunction with the Committee on LGBT History, organize sessions devoted to incorporating queer history into survey courses. This session, cosponsored by the CLGBTH and the Teaching Division, constitutes one of two initial efforts to address that recommendation. The 2017 Denver AHA featured panels dedicated to teaching Latin American and U.S. surveys; this year we propose panels on teaching African and World history.

Three African historians will discuss the ways that they incorporate queer history into their survey courses in pre-colonial, colonial, and modern history. They will focus on particular events, figures, and political movements, as well as strategies for talking about these themes. The historians themselves study a diverse range of countries and periods, from pre-colonial through colonial and modern; East, West, and Southern Africa, focusing on Ghana, Rwanda, and South Africa particularly. Key for all of them are the ways that studying queer African history complicates simple binary notions of heterosexuality and homosexuality, male and female, as well as disrupting notions of a backward Africa in contrast to a progressive, forward-thinking United States.

The goal of this panel is not just to learn the strategies of the presenters, but also to encourage conversation and the sharing of knowledge among attendees as well. For this reason we have chosen to structure the panel as a roundtable; speakers will give brief presentations and then open the conversation up to the audience. We hope that this panel will constitute just the next step in a longer conversation that we plan to continue at the 2019 meeting and beyond.

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