Race, Violence and Colonial Rule in Africa

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Rishika Yadav


This course is available on the MA in Asian and International History (LSE and NUS), MA in Modern History, MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International and Asian History, MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course examines and debates the nature of colonial rule in Africa, its impact and its legacy. It is focused upon the violence inherent in this encounter, its different forms and origins. Fundamentally It seeks to provide an explanation of the conflicts which erupted in Africa after 1989 by developing a historical perspective from the pre-colonial period  to the end of the Cold War.. It is essentially a political history but includes cultural, social and economic aspects. It often uses case studies from the British Empire in Africa and the Belgian Empire but ‘other empires are available’ as the saying goes.  Topics covered include pre-colonial African kingdoms, the ‘Scramble for Africa; white settler culture and the colonial state; the origins of apartheid South Africa;  the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya; the Congo crisis and the assassination of Patrice Lumumba; the rise and fall of 'white' Rhodesia; the genocide in Rwanda; the civil war in Sierra Leone; Mugabe and Zimbabwe; Somali warlordism and the ‘collapsed state’. And last but by no means least Africa’s so called first World War in the DRC. Histories of survival, trauma and healing are often present.


20 hours of seminars in the AT. 20 hours of seminars in the WT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

There will be a reading week in the Autumn and the Winter Terms.

Formative coursework

Each student is required to write two essays and one mock exam.

Indicative reading

John Iliffe, Africans: The History of a Continent (CUP, 2017 edn); Cheikh Anta Diop, Precolonial. Black Africa: A Comparative Study of the Political and Social Systems of Europe and Black Africa, from Antiquity to the Formation of Modern States (1988); E Akyeampong et al, Africa's Development in Historical Perspective (CUP, 2014); Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa (Penguin Classic, 2015); Petina Gappah. Out of the Darkness, Shining Light (2020); Thomas Pakenham, The Scramble for Africa (Abacus, 1992); Sylviane A. Diouf, Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America (OUP, 2009); B.P Bower & A Charles-Nicholas, The Psychological Legacy of Slavery: Essays on Trauma, Healing and the Living Past, (McFarland, North Carolina, 2021); Adam Hoschild, King Leopold’s Ghost (Pan Books, 2012 edn); F Furedi, The Silent War: Imperialism and the Changing Perception of Race (Pluto Press, 1998);M R Dowden, Africa: Altered States. Ordinary Miracles (Portobello Books, 2009); Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (Abacas Books,1994); Magema Fuze, The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual by Hlonipha Mokoena (Kwa Zulu University Press, 2011); D Kennedy, Islands of White: Settler Society and Culture in Kenya and Rhodesia, 1890-1939 (Duke University Press,1987); F Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, (Penguin Modern Classic); Terri Ochiagha, A short history of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (Ohio University Press, 2018); A. Igoni Barrett, Blackass (Chatto & Windus, 2015); Tstsi, Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions (Seal Press, 2002 edn); Jeffrey Nyarota, The Graceless Fall of Robert Mugabe: The End of a Dictator’s Reign (Penguin; 2018); K Holsti, K. The State, War, and the State of War (CUP), 1996). David van Reybrouck, Congo: The Epic History of a People (2015); Charles Van Onselen, The Night Trains (Hurst, 2020); Mark Leopold, Amin (Yale University Press, 2021); Joanna Lewis, Women of the Somali Diaspora (Hurst, 2021).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Value: One Unit

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