Spring 2023

Colonial and Decolonial Archives: Historical Research Methods

Listed in: History, as HIST-431


Jutta G. Sperling (Section 01)


[AS/EU/ME/US/TE/TR] This course is a hands-on archival studies course as well as a methods-course that introduces students to a variety of theoretical frameworks relevant for historical inquiry. Students will pursue their own primary research in various colonial and de-colonial archives at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College. These archives contain, among others, the reports of female missionaries in Armenia running schools for girls (MHC); journals and letters of British governors in India and their wives (AC); the archives of the Bliss family, founders of the American University in Beirut (AC); but also the papers of Equal Ahmad, post-colonial Pakistani activist and professor at HC; the archives of the Third World Women’s Alliance and other late twentieth century feminist and intersectional activists (SC); the living archive of Loretta Ross, Atlanta-based activist for reproductive justice (SC); and the Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection (AC).  We will frame our archival studies by readings in post- and decolonial theory as well as indigeneity studies, in addition to relevant historical scholarship. Numerous guest lecturers will present their perspectives on the materials. The aim is to produce a substantial original research paper of 15 pages. One meeting weekly.

Spring semester. Professor Sperling.

How to handle overenrollment: preference to senior, then junior history majors

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Research seminars require independent research, including the framing of a research question, and the identification and analysis of relevant primary and secondary sources. History majors must write a 20-25 page, evidence-based paper. Students who do not wish to fulfill the history major requirement can write a 12-15 page research paper.

HIST 431 - LEC

Section 01
F 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM CHAP 201


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023