Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Nathalie Etoke

Subject Categories

Africana Studies | African History | Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Political History | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Secondary Education | Social History


Africa, Congo, DRC, King Leopold, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kongo


The complicated history of the Democratic Republic of Congo is not typically part of high school curricula, yet events and historical trends concerning this nation connect with many key topics and themes, including feudalism, Haitian Revolution, New Imperialism, genocide, World War I & 2, Decolonization movements, Cold War politics, neo-colonialism/globalization, modern China’s economic power, authoritarianism, cult of personality, grassroots democracy movements, responses to climate change, etc. Designing and delivering a rigorous yet accessible curriculum on Congo poses a challenge for teaching beyond “King Leopold’s Ghost”, meaning, working past the prevalence of materials focusing on Belgian king’s genocidal two-decade rule over Congo, which perpetuates an image of Congolese as perpetual victims of resource exploitation at the expense of a fuller picture. My curriculum is designed and continuously evolving within the context of teaching 10th grade Global History at a Brooklyn New York public charter school and guided by the challenges and opportunities of instructing an socio-economically, ethnically and academically diverse student population within the NYS Regents and International Baccalaureate frameworks. The curriculum described in this thesis has been created with a focus on addressing two problems evident in existing discussions of Congo: the dearth of African sources, both pre and post-colonial, and the focus on Congolese victimhood. My research aims to highlight African scholarship as well as Congolese agency in the forms of leadership, activism and resistance against exploitation in the past and today so that students may learn multiple perspectives outside of stereotypical depictions and see the myriad ways that Congo’s history is important and relevant to our lives.