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AFRICAM 4A - 001 Africa: History and Culture: Home

Fall 2016

The Class Assignment

Dr. G. Ugo Nwokeji
Answer any one question. The essay is worth 20% of your total grade. The essay should not exceed 1,000 words and not have fewer than 900 words of text.
Students can write on a topic from outside this list, but those who choose to do so must clear the topic of their choice with the instructor. The following elements will be required of any such essay — (a) must fit into the scope of the course, (b) viable topic, such as availability of appropriate sources, and (c) an essay outline with a bibliography.
1. Based on your understanding of African historiography, is it accurate to state as does Axel Herneit-Sievers that, while there are many interfaces between “historiography and other forms of imagining and representing the past, historiography …developed within a particular social and historical context and is different” from them? 
2. Using a precolonial African society of your choice, which source is the most effective for uncovering its past?
3. Is it correct to say that the raison d’être of the Sudanic states of Africa was to control the gold and salt trade?
4. What effects did the slave trade have on African society?

The Research Process

Choose a topic.  

Do a brain dump: Note down what you already know about your topic, including

  • Names of people, organizations, companies, time period you are interested in, places of interest [countries, regions, cities]

Fill in the gaps in your knowlege: get background information from encyclopedias or other secondary sources.  Wikipedia can be good here.

Select the best places/ databases to find information on your topicLook at some of the databases on later tabs of this guide for article database suggestions. Or use a catalog like Oskicat or Melvyl to search for books and other resources.

Use nouns from your brain dump as search terms.

Evaluate what you find.  Change search terms to get closer to what you really want.

Refine Your Topic - Using the information you have gathered, determine if your research topic should be narrower or broader. You may need to search basic resources again using your new, focused topics and keywords. 

Take a look this short tutorial on beginning your research for more ideas.

Article Databases

Research Advisory Service

Research Advisory Service for Cal Undergraduates

Book a 30-minute appointment with a librarian who will help refine and focus research inquiries, identify useful online and print sources, and develop search strategies for humanities and social sciences topics.

Schedule, view, edit or cancel your appointment online (CalNetID required)

What's included

Start your Search includes books, articles and more.

Start your search is powered by EBSCO Discovery Services and combines a variety of library collections, catalogs and databases into a single search experience.

Google Books

Why use Google Books? Library catalogs (like OskiCat) don't search inside books; using a library catalog, you can search only information about the book (title, author, Library of Congress subject headings, etc.).  Google Books will let you search inside books, which can be very useful for hard-to-find information.  You can then use Google Books' Find in a Library link to locate the book in a UC Berkeley library, or search OskiCat to see if UC Berkeley owns the book.Try it now:


Discover more about using Google Books and other Google products though the Library's Google Research Guide.

Map of Africa (1691)

"Africa" from Brookes, R., The General Gazetteer; or Compendious Geographical Dictionary. Eighth Edition. Dublin, 1808.
Source: Perry-Castañeda Library
Map Collection


Subject Guide

Liladhar R. Pendse's picture
Liladhar R. Pendse
lpendse (at) library (dot) berkeley (dot) edu

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