This course will provide a critical overview of evidence for climate change and human response across Sub-Saharan Africa during the Holocene (12,000 BP to present). Case studies will include environmental and archaeological data, as well as ethnographies of historic and contemporary subsistence economies (hunter-gatherers, fisherfolk, pastoralists and mixed agriculturalists). The ‘human factor,’ both in terms of environmental impact and ideological coping strategies with climatic variability, will form a key component of our study.
Aims and Objectives of the course
- Familiarise students with current evidence for climate change and human responses to this change during the last 12,000 years in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Explore the different ecologies of the continent and varied human economies existing within them.
- Consider ideological components of social responses to environmental factors.
- Understand the opportunities and limitations posed by archaeological data for studying palaeoenvironments and past ecological relationships.
- Possess an understanding of the main Sub-Saharan ecosystems ranging from arid deserts to equatorial rainforests.
- Critically assess varied evidence for climate change on the African continent and consider their socio-cultural ramifications.
- Comprehend ideologically-driven, frequently non-optimal, responses to climate change by societies.
- Be able to evaluate and discuss climate change in Africa, its past and potential future human impacts.
Have a basic knowledge of the relevant types of data, their limitations and key sequences.
- Powerpoint-aided lectures with seminar components
- Two essays