This course looks at the lives and experiences of ‘women’ in African history, between the 17th and the 20th century. Hereby we anticipate that the category of ‘woman’ is a social and cultural construct, which needs to be reflected historically and against the backdrop of contemporary concerns with non-binary and gender theoretical propositions. The course considers prominent and powerful ‘women’, among them royal dignitaries, members of colonial elites, intellectuals or writers, as well as disempowered and disenfranchised female slaves, workers, and rural dwellers. The ‘women’s’ lives and experiences will take us on a journey through West, East, Central and Southern Africa, and we will consider them in ways that situate these ‘women’ in the social, political, and cultural worlds they inhabited, while at the same time preserving the possibility of their originality and individuality to emerge. We pay attention to how the lives and experiences of historical subjects emerge from the archive, how they are narrated and mediated – through archival sources authored by missionaries, colonial officers, adventures and researchers; how these lives and experiences are made and remade in autobiographical narratives produced by African ‘women’ themselves; how they are represented through visual forms and media such as historical photographs, etchings, paintings, and films; or constituted in the narratives produced by contemporary historians. The visual in particular will allow us to explore how some African women from the past have developed remarkable afterlives across a wide range of political, cultural and aesthetic practices by which contemporary African societies negotiate memory and historical consciousness. We are, in short, interested in African women’s lives as lived, narrated and transformed. The course will provide opportunities for exploring African women’s and gender history through some of the most interesting historical scholarship, but it will more importantly focus on close ‘readings’ of written and visual archival sources. Films, graphic arts and exhibits will take us into the domain of public history.



Donnerstag, 10.00-12.00
Rheinsprung 21, Seminarraum 00.004








African Studies, Geschichte, Medienwissenschaft, Ethnologie, Kulturanthropologie, Sozialanthropologie, Gender Studies


Universitäre Hochschulen (UH)