David Peterson Del Mar | Africa in American Mind

In this episode we interview PSU professor of history, David Peterson Del Mar. We discuss his upcoming book, African, American: From Tarzan to Dreams from My Father – Africa in the U.S. Imagination, which delves into the perceptions of Africa by white and black Americans. As Del Mar puts it, “Going to Africa has always been a metaphor for Americans, an epic quest to strange lands that inevitably circles back to ourselves.” We explore the argument that the viewpoint of Americans towards Africa is often formed by their own ideals and can lead to misinterpretations of African people. We also see how past relationships influence presence perceptions.

This episode also touches on the way gender plays a role in how people approach Africa, gender roles in Africa, false views of Africa such as the stereotypes about intelligence and helplessness, the difference between white and African American’s views of Africa, and how PSU students can get involved in Yo Ghana!.

Del Mar teaches U.S. family history, environmental history, and American perceptions of Africa. He is author of several books including: What Trouble I Have Seen: A History of Violence against Wives (Harvard, 1996) and Oregon’s Promise: An Interpretive History (OSU, 2003). Professor Del Mar is also the co-founder of Yo Ghana!, a nonprofit organization that facilitates letter writing between students in the Pacific Northwest and students in the Ghana.

Yo Ghana!: http://www.yoghana.org/
Blog: http://davidpetersondelmar.blogspot.com/
Books: http://davidpetersondelmar.com/


Books by David Peterson Del Mar

  • What Trouble I Have Seen: A History of Violence Against Wives (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996).
  • Beaten Down: A History of Interpersonal Violence in the West (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002).
  • Oregon’s Promise: An Interpretive History (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2003).
  • Through the Eyes of a Child: The First 120 Years of The Boys & Girls Aid Society of Oregon (Portland: The Boys & Girls Aid Society, 2005).
  • Environmentalism (New York: Pearson, 2006). *Revised editions available from Routledge.
  • The American Family: From Obligation to Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
  • African, American: From Tarzan to Dreams from My Father – Africa in the U.S. Imagination (London: Zed Books, 2017). *Forthcoming: release date is June 15.


Music in this Episode
Queens of the Stone Age, Make it Wit Chu (Instrumental)

Beyond Footnotes is a history-themed podcast on local KPSU, sponsored by Portland State University’s Department of History, and run by history graduate students, Lyndsay Smith, Evan Smiley and Jeffrey Stone. Beyond Footnotes features interviews with the talented faculty and students of PSU, providing a forum for local historians to share their work with each other and the community. The show was co-created and formerly hosted by Ryan Wisnor and Joshua Justice of Dive Audio and originally launched on October 9, 2015.