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Amazing Grace in Darkness and Light: Struggle, Endurance and Power in the Lives of African Women  

David Conrad This course introduces various aspects of the history and culture of African womanhood by drawing on originally recorded grassroots oral traditions, and the professor’s fifty years of first-hand experience and research in Africa. The daily lives, ritual processes and constant productive labor of contemporary village women are revealed through the author’s photography and personal acquaintance from la vie quotidienne of village life to the highest levels of power and authority. Additional depth and perspective on African women’s achievement is addressed through presentation of obscure archival evidence highlighting historical female power figures of earlier centuries. 1. From Slaves to signarés in Gorée and Saint-Louis: The Role of Women in European & West African Relations, 17th-19th Century Senegal 2. D’mba as Matrix of West African Womanhood: Female Gateways to the Spirit World 3. From Cleopatra Selene to Kahina and Tin Hinan: Female Leaders and North African History 4. Queens of Loango and Ngola: Art, Religion, and Power in Central African Cultures Under Portuguese Rule (15th-20th Centuries) 5. Searching for Mami Wata: A Seductive and “Dangerous” West African Female Water Spirit 6. From Desert Genocide to European Freak Show: Troubled Times for Khoisan Women of Southern Africa Specializing in oral tradition, indigenous religion and early kingdoms of the Western Sudan, David has made over thirty trips to Africa, and continues to return to his research villages in Guinea and Mali regularly where he has now formed close connections. This close contact with the culture and people is what drew David’s focus to the role of and regard for women throughout the African stories and lore along with their impressive current day accomplishments and strength. David holds a Ph.D. in African History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, is Emeritus Professor of History, State University of New York at Oswego, and is a recipient of major grants from the Fulbright Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2008-09 David was ethno-historian of a Yale University fieldwork project on the Baga peoples of Guinea. In 2008 he made television appearances in the “Sahel to the Sahara” episode of Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe (PBS) and The Discovery Channel’s The Lost Gold of Timbuktu with Josh Bernstein. In Lisbon that same year he was presented with a festschrift titled Mande Mansa: Essays in Honor of David C. Conrad. Among his books are A State of Intrigue, Epic Ancestors of the Sunjata Era, Somono Bala of the Upper Niger, Sunjata: A West African Epic (excerpted in The Norton Anthology of World Literature) and the prize-winning Empires of Medieval West Africa.


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