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Intro to Afro American Studies
Framing Question #1
How do we undertake the study of the African experience?
Abstract: We undertake the study of the African experience through the history of African people and by evaluating time periods in order to make sense of the African experience. We have to know the origin of our people and understand what they knew so we can explain what is happening today. We also have to understand the dismemberment of Africa and how that affected African peoples cultural identity.
Critical Review of Scholarship: In order to answer Framing question one, I decided to pull sources from Ngugi WA Thiong'o Something Torn and New and Gregg E. Carr's towards and Intellectual History of Africana Studies: Genealogy and Normative Theory. I am going to use these two books as my sources because they have helped me understand the African Experience. From the book Something Torn and New, I am going to talk about the importance of identification. As I was reading the book, I realized that African people had to adapt to their new life during the diaspora in order to keep their heritage alive. From the book towards and Intellectual History of Africana Studies: Genealogy and Normative Theory, I am going to talk about how African people maintained their "self" throughout history despite the hardship that they been through and will go through.
Both of these books were able to help me answer framing question one because they both gave me a deep insight on the African experience. I understand that the African experience is a journey with struggles, hardship, beauty, and love. African people were and still are over coming obstacles in order to exist.
Both books were very helpful but at times were very confusing. Thiong'o book Something Torn and New successfully brought in native stories and history to describe the African experience. However, I noticed that some of the stories the book used as examples did not fully help me relate it back to framing question one. Carr's book Towards an Intellectual History of Africana Studies: Genealogy and Native Theory successfully taught me what methods to help better understand the African experience; what is right and wrong, and family. However, the theories stated were not explicit so it was difficult to fully understand what the text was trying to say.
Discussion: In order to successfully undertake the study of the African experience one has to know the history and dismemberment of Africa. It started during the colonial period of Europe when they came to Africa in search of workers for their voyage to the new world. The book Something Torn and New explains how the dismemberment began and the affect it had on the African people. On the 6 of Something Torn and New, Thiong'o writes "The dismemberment occurred in two stages… the African personhood was divided into two halves: the continent and diaspora," to explain how this act affected both Africans that stayed in Africa and those that were sent away. The Africans that were forcefully removed from their home country were stripped from their identity and as a result, they lost touch with their roots. Another way to understand the dismemberment is to know how Africa people were stripped of their language.
To undertake the African Experience is to know how the loss of language affected a person's cultural identity. On page 17 of Something Torn and New, Thiong'o writes "It is terrible to have another's language imposed on upon one but acceptable to impose ones language on another… it is the right of the conqueror." He writes this to describe how the Europeans made African people speak and understand their own language. Europeans preformed "Linguicide: language liquidation" (Ngugi wa Thiong'o pg. 17), they knew if they allowed the Africans to speak their own language and practice their own culture, then African people would have rebelled and find a way back to their homeland. So by taking away the Africans ability to communicate about their old lives, they had to soon forgotten their own culture and was forced to adapt to their new way of life. Another way to undertake the African experience is to track through the history of African people.
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