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Black Radicalism - HIS00151I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Henrice Altink
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

Starting with Haiti in 1804, slavery was gradually abolished in the Americas in the nineteenth century. But abolition did not bring racial equality. This course explores how people of African descent in the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean tried to achieve full and equal citizenship from the abolition of slavery to the Black Lives Matter movement. It focusses not just on organisations, such as the UNIA and Black Panthers, but also on spontaneous actions, including strikes, as well as popular expressions of black radicalism, such as music.

Proceeding in a roughly chronological order, the module will show that demands for inclusion in the nation as full and equal citizens coexisted with exclusionary practices. Women, for example, were often excluded from leadership positions in black radical organisations. And it will also highlight the tension in the black radical tradition between separatism and integration. The module will not only draw comparisons between black radical traditions in different parts of the Americas, paying attention to different racial regimes, but also explore the exchange of black radical ideas and practices across the region. By focussing on the radical ways in which black people across the Americas have tried to resist anti-black racism in the long twentieth-century and the impact of their actions on politics and culture, this module will highlight the agency of black people in history.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with the opportunity to study particular historical topics in depth
  • To develop students’ ability to examine a topic from a range of perspectives and to strengthen their ability to work critically and reflectively with secondary and primary material

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Have acquired a deep knowledge of the specific topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to use and synthesise a range of primary and secondary sources
  • Be able to evaluate the arguments that historians have made about the topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to study independently through seminar-based teaching

Module content

Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1. Students will then attend a 1-hour plenary/lecture and a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11 of semester 1. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing Weeks (RAW) during which there are no seminars. Students prepare for and participate in eight 1-hour plenaries/lectures and eight 2-hour seminars in all.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Racial systems in the Americas: an overview
  2. Post-emancipation radicalism
  3. Garveyism
  4. Strikes and antifascism in the 1930s
  5. Black Marxism
  6. Black Power and Black (inter) nationalism
  7. Hip Hop and other forms of black radicalism in the 1980s and 1990s
  8. Black Lives Matter


Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

For formative assessment, students will complete a referenced 1200 to 1500-word essay relating to the themes and issues of the module. This will be submitted in either the Week 5 or Week 9 RAW week (on the day of the weekly seminar).

For summative assessment, students will complete an Assessed Essay (2000 words, footnoted). This will comprise 100% of the overall module mark.

Summative assessments will be due in the assessment period.


Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will typically receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

  • George Reid Andrews, Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000 (Oxford: OUP, 2004).
  • Keisha N. Blain, Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).
  • Gad Heuman, The Caribbean (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.