Empire Of The Sun Cultural Context Essay

Memories have huge staying power, but like dreams, they thrive in the dark, surviving for decades in the deep waters of our minds like shipwrecks on the sea bed. Hauling them into the daylight can be risky. Within a few hours, a precious trophy of childhood or a first romance can crumble into rust.

I knew that something similar might happen when I began to write Empire of the Sun, a novel about my life as a boy in Shanghai during the second world war, and in the civilian camp at Lunghua, where I was interned with my parents. Coming to England after the war, and trying to cope with its grey, unhappy people, I hoarded my memories of Shanghai, a city that soon seemed as remote and glamorous as ancient Rome. Its magic never faded, whereas I forgot Cambridge within five minutes of leaving that academic theme park, and never wanted to go back. The only people I remembered were the dissecting room cadavers.

During the 1960s, the Shanghai of my childhood seemed a portent of the media cities of the future, dominated by advertising and mass circulation newspapers and swept by unpredictable violence. But how could I raise this Titanic of memories? Brought up from the sea bed, the golden memory hoard could turn out to be dross. Besides, there are things that the novel can't easily handle. I could manage my changing relations with my parents, my 13-year-old's infatuation with the war, and the sudden irruption into our lives of American air power. But how do you convey the casual surrealism of war, the deep silence of abandoned villages and paddy fields, the strange normality of a dead Japanese soldier lying by the road like an unwanted piece of luggage?

I waited 40 years before giving it a go, one of the longest periods a professional writer has put off describing the most formative events in his life. Twenty years to forget, and then 20 years to remember. There was always the possibility that my memories of the war concealed a deeper stratum of unease that I preferred not to face. But at least my three children had grown up, and as I wrote the book I would never have to think of them sharing the war with my younger self.

In fact, I found it difficult to begin the novel, until it occurred to me to drop my parents from the story. We had lived together in a small room for nearly three years, eating our boiled rice and sweet potatoes from the same card table, sleeping within an arm's reach of each other, an exhilarating experience for me after the formality of our prewar home, where my parents were busy with their expat social life and I was brought up by Chinese servants who never looked at me and never spoke to me.

But I needed to move my parents out of the story, just as they had moved out of my life in Lunghua even though we were sharing the same room. They had no control over their teenage son, were unable to feed or clothe him or pull those little levers of promise and affection with which parents negotiate domestic life with their children. My real existence took place in the camp, wheedling dog-eared copies of Popular Mechanics and Reader's Digest from the American merchant seamen in the men's dormitory, hunting down every rumour in the air, waiting for the food cart and the next B-29 bombing raid. My mind was expanding to fill the possibilities of the war, something I needed to do on my own. Once I separated Jim from his parents the novel unrolled itself at my feet like a bullet-ridden carpet.

Even then, I had to leave out many things that belong in a memoir rather than a novel. Lunghua camp, with its 2,000 internees, was a grimy bidonville, a slum township where, as in all slums, the teenage boys ran wild. There were unwatched screwdrivers or penknives to be snaffled, heroic arguments with a bored clergyman about the existence of God, buckets of night soil to be hoisted from the G-block septic tank and poured into the tomato and cucumber beds that were supposed to keep us alive when the Japanese could no longer feed us. In a bombed-out building I found a broken Chinese bayonet, sharpened the stump of blade and used it to prise away the bricks of the kitchen coal store, filling a sack with precious coke that would briefly break the chill of our unheated concrete building. My father said nothing, feeding the coke into a miniature brazier as he rehearsed his lecture on science and the idea of God. I ran off, and nagged the off-duty Japanese guards in their bungalows until they let me wear their kendo armour, laughing as they thumped me around the head with their wooden swords.

In 1984 the novel was published, a caravel of memories raised from the deep. Enough of it was based on fact to convince me that what had seemed a dream-like pageant was a negotiated truth. Curiously, my original memories of Shanghai still seemed intact, and even survived a return trip to Shanghai, where I found our house in Amherst Avenue and our room in Lunghua camp - now a boarding school - virtually unchanged.

Then, in 1987, like a jumbo jet crash-landing in a suburban park, a Hollywood film company came down from the sky. It disgorged an army of actors, makeup artists, set designers, costume specialists, cinematographers and a director, Steven Spielberg, all of whom had strong ideas of their own about wartime Shanghai. After 40 years my memories had shaped themselves into a novel, but only three years later they were mutating again.

Hazy figures now had names and personalities, smiles and glances that I had seen in a dozen other films: John Malkovich, Nigel Havers, Miranda Richardson. With them was a brilliant child actor, Christian Bale, who uncannily resembled my younger self. He came up to me on the set and said: "Hello, Mr Ballard. I'm you." He was followed by an attractive young couple, Emily Richard and Rupert Frazer, who added: "And we're your mum and dad."

Coincidences were building strange bridges. Thanks to the film studios in Shepperton, many of my neighbours worked as extras, and now called out: "Mr Ballard, we're going to Lunghua together." Had some deep-cover assignment led me to Shepperton in 1960, knowing that one day I would write a novel about Shanghai, and that part of it would be filmed in Shepperton?

Spielberg, an intelligent and thoughtful man, generously gave me a small role as a guest at the opening fancy-dress party. Warners had rented three houses in Sunningdale to stand in for our Shanghai home. When I arrived at the location I found an armada of buses, vans and coaches that filled entire fields and resembled the evacuation of London. Bizarrely, it also reminded me of the day we were bussed into Lunghua from our assembly point at the American club near the Great Western Road. I can still see the huge crowd of Brits, many of the women in fur coats, sitting with their suitcases around the swimming pool, as if waiting for the water to part and lead them to safety.

The Sunningdale house where the fancy-dress party was filmed closely resembled our Amherst Avenue home, but this at least was no coincidence. The expat British architects in the 1930s who specialised in stockbroker's Tudor took the Surrey golf course mansions as their model. Past and present were coming full circle. The Warners props department filled the house with period fittings - deco screens and lamps, copies of Time and Life, white telephones and radios the size of sideboards. In the drive outside the front door, uniformed Chinese chauffeurs stood beside authentic Buicks and Packards. A 12-year-old boy ran through the costumed guests, a model aircraft in one hand, racing across the lawn into a dream.

Surprisingly, it was the film premiere in Hollywood, the fount of most of our planet's fantasies, that brought everything down to earth. A wonderful night for any novelist, and a reminder of the limits of the printed word. Sitting with the sober British contingent, surrounded by everyone from Dolly Parton to Sean Connery, I thought Spielberg's film would be drowned by the shimmer of mink and the diamond glitter. But once the curtains parted the audience was gripped. Chevy Chase, sitting next to me, seemed to think he was watching a newsreel, crying: "Oh, oh . . . !" and leaping out of his seat as if ready to rush the screen in defence of young Bale.

I was deeply moved by the film but, like every novelist, couldn't help feeling that my memories had been hijacked by someone else's. As the battle of Britain fighter ace Douglas Bader said when introduced to the cast of Reach for the Sky: "But they're actors."

Actors of another kind play out our memories, performing on a stage inside our heads whenever we think of childhood, our first day at school, courtship and marriage. The longer we live - and it's now 60 years since I reluctantly walked out of Lunghua camp - the more our repertory company emerges from the shadows and moves to the front of the stage. Spielberg's film seems more truthful as the years pass. Christian Bale and John Malkovich join hands by the footlights with my real parents and my younger self, with the Japanese soldiers and American pilots, as a boy runs forever across a peaceful lawn towards the coming war. But perhaps, in the end, it's all only a movie.

&middot Empire of the Sun Special Edition will be released by Warner Home Videos on March 6, priced £19.99.

Reviews

Reviews of monographs, texts, fiction, references, performances, exhibits, any artifacts and items that may contribute to the teaching of, and understanding of, world history and global studies. Those who wish to propose a review project should contact the Chief Editor directly.

Ocean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa and the Indian Ocean, c. 1750-1850. Pedro Machado. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9781107070264 For Full Article Edited by Birgit Schneider (c) 2017 The Middle Ground Journal , Number 15, Fall, 2017. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational read more »


Beijing’s Power and China’s Borders: Twenty Neighbors in Asia. Bruce A. Elleman, Stephen Kotkin, and Clive Schofield, eds. Armonk, NY and London, England: Routledge , 2013. ISBN: 9780765627643 For Full Article Edited by Karen Rosenflanz (c) 2017 The Middle Ground Journal , Number 15, Fall, 2017. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines read more »


The Indian Ocean: Oceanic Connections and the Creation of New Societies. Abdul Sheriff and Engseng Ho, eds.  London: Hurst & Company, 2014. ISBN-10: 1849044260 For Full Article Edited by Martin Pflug (c) 2017 The Middle Ground Journal , Number 15, Fall, 2017. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's read more »


Voices from the Shifting Russo-Japanese Border: Karafuto/Sakhalin.   Svetlana Paichadze and  Philip Seaton. (eds.) Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.  ISBN: 9781138804784 For Full Article Edited by Martin Pflug (c) 2017 The Middle Ground Journal , Number 15, Fall, 2017. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational open-access policy. read more »


Africanizing Democracies: 1980-Present.   Alicia Decker and Andrea Arrington.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.  ISBN: 9780199915392 For Full Article Edited by Ashley Dressel (c) 2017 The Middle Ground Journal , Number 15, Fall, 2017. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational open-access policy. read more »


European Slave Trading in the Indian Ocean, 1500-1850. Richard B. Allen. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780821421079 For Full Article Edited by Birgit Schneider (c) 2017 The Middle Ground Journal , Number 15, Fall, 2017. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational open-access policy. read more »


Eurasian: Mixed Identities in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, 1842—1943. Emma Jinhua Teng. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780520276277 For Full Article Edited by Karen Rosenflanz (c) 2017 The Middle Ground Journal , Number 15, Fall, 2017. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit read more »


Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans. Alison Owings. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780813549651 For Full Article Edited by Sarah R. Hamilton (c) 2017 The Middle Ground Journal , Number 15, Fall, 2017. http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational open-access policy. read more »


Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade. Gabrielle Hecht. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780262017268     In common usage and popular understanding, the term “nuclear” tends to be closely associated with power plants, bombs, radioactive medicine, and other high-visibility technologies wielded by the world’s most powerful industrialized read more »


Rice: Global Networks and New Histories. Bray, Francesca, Peter A. Coclanis, Edda L. Fields-Black, and Dagmar Schäfer, eds. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9781107044395 In recent years, historians have increasingly come to recognize the value of studies of commodities, with particular emphasis being placed upon foodstuffs. Beyond the read more »


The World Hunt: An Environmental History of the Commodification of Animals. John F. Richards. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780520282537 This publication is an interesting selection for the California World History series. The four chapters included in the book were originally published in a large, synthetic environmental read more »


Chinese and Japanese Films on the Second World War. Edited by King-fai Tam, Timothy Y. Tsu, and Sandra Wilson. Oxon and NY: Routledge, 2015. ISBN: 9781138791039 China and Japan engaged in a prolonged war called the Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945. In world history this conflict is often understood read more »


Crude Reality: Petroleum in World History.   Brian C. Black. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2012. ISBN: 9780742556333 In Crude Reality, historian Brian Black argues that oil is a “terribly irrational resource” (p. 67). The complex fluid geology of oil deposits, its immense stored chemical energy, and the read more »


A Global History of War: From Assyria to the Twenty-First Century. Gérard Chaliand. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780520283619 The title of Gérard Chaliand’s book, A Global History of War, promises more than the book offers. The book does not examine warfare around the globe, nor does it read more »


From Development to Dictatorship: Bolivia and the Alliance for Progress in the Kennedy Era. Thomas Field, Jr. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014.  ISBN: 9780801452604 History does not repeat itself but it sure rhymes, as the old adage says.  Indeed, old strategies are resurfacing in the wake of modern threats from read more »


Migration and New Media: Transnational Families and Polymedia. Mirca Madianou and Daniel Miller. Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2012. ISBN: 9780415679282      In their work Migration and New Media: Transnational Families and Polymedia, Mirca Madianou and Daniel Miller combine their ethnographic research with Filipino migrant parents and their children with a read more »


Empires of Coal: Fueling China’s Entry into the Modern World Order, 1860-1920. Shellen Xiao Wu. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780804792844 In recent years, “China in the world” has become a new buzz word in both research works and innovative curricula. This new theme calls for research not on read more »


The Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America, 1898-1946. Rick Baldoz. New York: New York University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780841791097 The United States prefers to ignore its history as a colonial power, conquering the Philippines as well as several other Spanish possessions in the Pacific and the Caribbean read more »


Migration: A World History. Michael Fisher. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780199764334 The stated goal of Michael Fisher’s Migration, part of the larger Oxford New World History series, is to move away from “old” ways of approaching world history. As the editors of the series clearly read more »


Ottoman-Iranian Borderlands: Making a Boundary, 1843-1914. Sabri Ates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. ISBN: 9781107033658    This work offers a well-researched study of the border areas between the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and Iran focused on the period from the middle of the 19th century until the first part of the 20th read more »


Violent Intermediaries: African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa. Michelle Moyd. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780821420898 This is a social history of the German colonial army, the Schutztruppe, in German East Africa (GEA), from its hasty creation in 1889 until its disbandment at the end read more »


Hacking the Academy: New Approaches to Scholarship and Teaching from Digital Humanities. Daniel J. Cohen & Tom Scheinfeldt, Eds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780472051984 Digital humanities is a popular buzz word which has been increasingly used in various institutions of higher education over the past few read more »


Islam, Orientalism and Intellectual History: Modernity and the Politics of Exclusion since Ibn Khaldun. Mohammad Salama. London: I.B. Tauris, 2013. ISBN: 9781780764504 This book examines the relationship between Islam and the West from the point of view of intellectual history during the Enlightenment, colonialism, and the postcolonial era. As Salama read more »


Loci Sacri: Understanding Sacred Places. T.Coomans, H. De Dijn, J. De Maeyer, R. Heynickx, and B. Verschaffel (eds.)  Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9789058678423 As a historian of Africa and as a teacher of world history, I am very intrigued by the subject of sacred spaces as a way read more »


A Short History of Film: Second Edition.   Wheeler Winston Dixon and Gwendolyn Audrey Foster.  New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2013.  ISBN: 9780813560557 Wheeler Winston Dixon and Gwendolyn Audrey Foster’s A Short History of Film provides an excellent starting point into the study of film history.  The work read more »


Imagic Moments: Indigenous North American Film. Lee Schweninger. London: The University of Georgia Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780820345154 Lee Schweninger’s book Imagic Moments: Indigenous North American Film is the latest text to examine the cinematic achievements of Aboriginal directors and actors in the rich and increasingly popular field of North American read more »


Gender and the Negotiation of Daily Life in Mexico, 1750-1856. Sonya Lipsett-Rivera. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780803238336 Sonya Lipsett-Rivera opens Gender and the Negotiation of Daily Life in Mexico with the assertion that “on a day-to-day basis the aspects of life that most preoccupied people were not read more »


The Feedback Loop: Historians Talk about the Links between Research and Teaching. Antoinette M. Burton, et. al. eds. Washington, D.C: The American Historical Association, 2013. ISBN: 9780872292011 Explaining what I do as a historian is often a difficult task. Much of society -- many of my students included – assume read more »


Inka Human Sacrifice and Mountain Worship: Strategies for Empire Unification. Thomas Besom. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780826353078 The consolidation of the Inka Empire in only 90 years, for Thomas Besom, is one of the most exceptional events in South American history.  Most scholars in the field, read more »


Excavating Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist Italy. Joshua Arthurs. New York: Cornell University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780801449987     Throughout contemporary academic spheres, recent discourse revolving around the history of Fascism has turned towards the regime’s vision of modernism. According to Excavating Modernity, the implication of said scholarly approach necessitates read more »


Mark My Words: Native Women Mapping Our Nations. Mishuana Goeman. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780816677900 Mishuana Goeman’s Mark My Words: Native Women Mapping Our Nations challenges readers to think about how indigenous North American women’s writing creates maps and spaces that complement and counter colonial, patriarchal, conventionally-considered read more »


Chieftains into Ancestors: Imperial Expansion and Indigenous Society in Southwest China. David Faure and Ho Ts’ui-p’ing, editors. Vancouver and Toronto: University of British Columbia Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780774823692     The scholars whose essays appear in this volume all attempt, in one way or another, to provide a history of southern read more »


The Cuban Revolution: Origins Course and Legacy, 3d ed. Marifeli Pérez-Stable. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780195367089 The Cuban Revolution holds a significant historical place in defining the contours of a society that moved from slavery, through colony, into Cold War, and now into a new global order. read more »


A History of Early Southeast Asia: Maritime Trade and Societal Development, 100-1500. Kenneth R. Hall. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011. ISBN: 9780742567610 In A History of Early Southeast Asia: Maritime Trade and Societal Development, 100-1500, historian Kenneth Hall offers a useful overview of Southeast Asian history in the era read more »


The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity.   Peter Brown.  Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2015.  ISBN: 9780674967588 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for read more »


Ends of Empire: Asian American Critique and the Cold War. Jodi Kim. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780816655922 American interventions in East Asia, Cold War epistemology, and Asian American cultural productions all receive due reconsideration of their interrelationships in Jodi Kim’s 2010 monograph, Ends of Empire. In this read more »


Divided Rule: Sovereignty and Empire in French Tunisia, 1881-1938. Mary Dewhurst Lewis. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780520279155 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for read more »


Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line. Theresa Runstedtler. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780520280113 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- read more »


Battle Lines: A Graphic History of the Civil War. Ari Kelman and Jonathan Fetter-Vorm.  New York: Hill and Wang, 2015.  ISBN: 9780809094745 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for more read more »


Revolutions Without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World. Janet Polasky. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780300208948 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for more read more »


An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press Books, 2014. ISBN: 9780807057834 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for more information, please see HERE. read more »


Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe’s Early Modern World. Benjamin Schmidt. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780812246469 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for more information, please see read more »


Theatre and the State in Singapore: Orthodoxy and Resistance. Terence Chong. New York: Routledge, 2011. ISBN: 9780415584487 As art proves to be a foundational component of culture, interrogating the institution of art sheds light on a culture’s identity. In the detailed and focused cultural study, Theatre and the State of read more »


Borrowed Light: Vico, Hegel, and the Colonies. Timothy Brennan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780804790543 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for more information, please see HERE. Timothy Brennan’s read more »


Genocide Lives in Us: Women, Memory, and Silence in Rwanda. Jennie E. Burnet. Madison:  University of Wisconsin Press, 2012.  ISBN: 9780299286446 In this captivating story of one of the greatest travesties thrust upon the world, Jennie E. Burnet’s work on Rwanda, and the impact of its 1994 genocide casts its read more »


Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History. Ranca Iacovetta, Valerie J. Korinek, Mariene Epp, eds. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012. ISBN: 9781442644762 (bound) ISBN: 9781442612839 (pbk.) Born out of a 2008 workshop funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and held at Conrad Grebel University read more »


History and Popular Memory: The Power of Story in Moments of Crisis. Paul A. Cohen. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780231166362 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- read more »


Ambivalent Encounters: Childhood, Tourism, and Social Change in Banaras, India. Jenny Huberman. New Brunswick, NJ and London: Rutgers University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780813554068     Jenny Huberman, an anthropologist, provides us with an apt ethnographic study on children, tourism, and the place of power in working class life. Her place of read more »


Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World. Gary Wilder. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780822358503 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for more information, read more »


Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution. Kathleen Du Val. New York: Random House, 2015. ISBN: 9781400068951 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for more information, please read more »


Cosmopolitan Africa: 1700–1875. Trevor R. Getz. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780199764709 In the late nineteenth century, European leaders such as Jules Ferry, the Prime Minister of France, and Joseph Chamberlain, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, believed the West had a duty to civilize Africans. read more »


Empire’s Children: Child Emigration, Welfare, and the Decline of the British World, 1869-1967. Ellen Boucher. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9781107041387 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for read more »


Teaching Africa: A Guide for the 21st-Century Classroom.   Brandon D. Lundy and Solomon Negash.  Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2013.   ISBN: 9780253008213     Teaching about Africa in the American university system can be a daunting task.  Students typically arrive to campus with little knowledge of the continent, its read more »


Before Orientalism: Asian Peoples and Cultures in European Travel Writing, 1245-1510. Kim M. Phillips. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780812245486 This essay is a part of our series, Using Book Reviews as a Teaching Tool – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of History -- for more read more »


Colonial Africa, 1884–1994. Dennis Laumann. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780199796397 Over the past 5–10 years, African Studies pedagogy has benefited immensely from publications in three book series designed for use in undergraduate classrooms: Ohio Short Histories of Africa (Ohio Univ. Press & Jacana), Africa in World History read more »


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