African Studies


HIST 104 / AFR 104(S)Travel Narratives and African History

In a way, all historical thinking and writing deals with travel accounts given that, as many scholars have noted, the past can be likened to a foreign country and the historian can be viewed as a traveler in foreign places. Nevertheless, actual travel narratives--narratives about the actual physical visits of writers to distant lands--call for careful and critical analysis because they can be seductive, and they can shape the ways we think about the present--and the past--of distant lands and cultures. This course discusses Arab, Indian, European, African and African American travel narratives about various regions of Africa since the 14th century. We will mine the travel accounts for descriptions of local contexts. We will also explore what travel writing says about the author's perceptions of self, home, and "other." Ultimately, we will investigate the authors' biases and how the narratives influence both our perception of Africa and the writing of African history. This course is highly interdisciplinary and draws heavily on literary, anthropological, geographical, and historical methodologies. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

BIOL 134 / ENVI 134The Tropics: Biology and Social Issues

Not offered this year

Intended for the non-scientist, this course explores the biological dimensions of social issues in tropical societies, and focuses on specifically on the peoples and cultures of tropical regions in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceanea, and the Caribbean. Tropical issues have become prominent on a global scale, and many social issues in the tropics are inextricably bound to human ecology, evolution, and physiology. The course begins with a survey of the tropical environment of humans, including major climatic and habitat features. The next section focuses on human population biology, and emphasizes demography and the role of disease particularly malaria and AIDS. The final part of the course covers the place of human societies in local and global ecosystems including the challenges of tropical food production, the importance of organic diversity, and the interaction of humans with their supporting ecological environment. This course fulfills the EDI requirement. Through lectures, debates and readings, students confront social issues in the tropics from the perspective of biologist. This builds a framework for lifelong exploration of human diversity. [ more ]

AFR 200(F, S)Introduction to Africana Studies

This course introduces students to the content and contours of Africana Studies as a vibrant field of knowledge. Through exploration of the genealogy, disciplinary diversity, and evolution of the field, we will examine the depth and range of experiences of African-descended peoples throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. We will also give some attention to how members of the Diaspora remember and encounter Africa, as well as their diverse responses to the history of enslavement, colonialism, apartheid, racism, and globalization. Through materials that embrace both historical and contemporary perspectives, we seek to help students develop critical frameworks for understanding African diasporic experience while simultaneously illumining disjunctures and challenges for the field. This course features two pedagogical strategies: 1) a rotational, interdisciplinary approach that includes the expertise, methods, and specializations of Africana faculty; and 2) the incorporation of aesthetic materials--film, photography, music, dance, performance, and artwork--to enhance student ability to draw ongoing connections between visual and textual sources covered in the course. Close textual analysis, vibrant debate, and engaging discourse are expected. [ more ]

DANC 202 / AFR 206 / MUS 221(S)African Dance and Percussion

Course continues the investigation of selected music and dance from the African continent. Advancing dance and music skills, deepening understanding of history and context of the material are focus of readings, discussions and projects throughout the semester. Questions we will address include the impact of religion, colonialism, travel, immigration, media tradition and the continued emergence of new forms. Material may include Gum Boots (Isicathulo) from Southern Africa, Juju in Nigeria or Hip Hop in several nations. This course can be taken for academic and/or PE credit. [ more ]

HIST 203 / AFR 203(F)Modern African History

This course surveys the history of 19th and 20th century Africa. The first section of the course focuses on the European conquest of Africa and the dynamics of colonial rule--especially its socio-economic and cultural consequences. The second section looks at how the rising tide of African nationalism, in the form of labor strikes and guerrilla wars, ushered out colonialism. The third section examines the postcolonial states, focusing on the politics of development, recent civil wars in countries like Rwanda and Liberia, and the growing AIDS epidemics. The last section surveys the history of Apartheid in South Africa up to 1994.Course materials include fiction, poetry, memoirs, videos, newspaper articles, and outstanding recent scholarship. The course is structured around discussions. This EDI course explores the experiences and expressions of the culturally diverse peoples of African descent in the New World (and the Old), as well as the myriad ways in which they confront, negotiate, and at times challenge dominant U.S. and/or European hierarchies of race, culture, gender and class. [ more ]

RLFR 203 / AFR 204Introduction to Francophone Studies

Not offered this year

The Francophone world, stretching across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas, has often been described as a family joined by a shared language and condition born of colonial history. Through fiction and film, this course will examine what it means to be Francophone, and how writers and filmmakers from the Francophone world have approached the idea of family both literally and metaphorically in order to explore questions of identity, origins, colonialism, resistance, nationhood and interconnectedness in a global community. This course invites students to enter into critical engagement with cultural constructions of difference, colonial and post-colonial constructions of subjectivity, culturally contested imaginations and treatment of gender and race, and the very idea of the Francophone itself. Authors we will read include: Driss Chraibi (Morocco), Dany Laferriere (Haiti), Maryse Conde (Guadeloupe), Aime Cesaire (Martinique), Linda Le (Vietnam) and Fatou Diome (Senegal). Films studied include Moolaade (Ousmane Sembene), La vie sur terre (Abderrahman Sissoko) and Abouna (Mahamet-Saleh Haroun). Conducted in French. [ more ]

ECON 204 / ENVI 234Economics of Developing Countries

Not offered this year

This course is an introduction to the economics of development. The central question is: why are some people and nations poor? And what can governments (or donors) do to reduce poverty? Possible topics include agricultural productivity, health, education, microfinance, child labor, corruption, resource utilization and pollution, and intellectual property rights. We shall also discuss the extent to which market-friendly reforms (such as trade liberalization) can reduce poverty. [ more ]

MUS 220 / AFR 201 / DANC 201(F)African Dance and Percussion

This course focuses on selected dance and music forms from the African continent for example, Kpanlogo from Ghana, Lamban from Guinea, Senegal and Mali or Bira from Zimbabwe. We will examine their origins (people, history and cultures) and influence beyond geographic perimeter to more fully understand the function of these forms in contemporary times. Students will study movement and percussion and are evaluated on the quality of progress with the selected forms throughout the semester. Forms may not be the same every semester. This course can be taken for academic and/or PE credit [ more ]

MUS 222 / AFR 223Politics of Performance/Performing Politics in Contemporary Africa

Not offered this year

Using select examples from throughout Africa, this course highlights genres, artists, and works that engage with social and ideological change. Students practice critical listening and performance analysis, while also considering the social contexts that render these performances meaningful and provocative. Topics include: challenges to mass mediated stereotypes of African populations, the social and economic impact of cultural tourism, music as a form of social critique, changing attitudes toward women and the LGBTQ community, music and global aid organizations, issues of migration and displacement, and the changing roles of traditional musical occupations. Popular genres--among them Afrobeat, kwaito, soukous, rai, mbalax, Chimurenga music, and a variety of rap and hip-hop styles--are discussed alongside numerous traditional and ceremonial genres, national/political anthems, and concert pieces. Active participation in class discussion is an important component of this course. [ more ]

PSCI 243 / AFR 256(S)Politics of Africa

This course provides a broad introduction to the politics of contemporary Africa, emphasizing along the way the diversity of African politics. It seeks to challenge the widespread image of African politics as universally and inexplicably lawless, violent, and anarchic.This course begins by examining the colonization of Africa, nationalist movements, and patterns of rule in the first 30 years of independence. From there, the course analyzes the causes, achievements and limitations of the recent waves of political and economic liberalization across Africa. With an understanding of politics in African countries, we consider how this shapes patterns of economic development. Finally, the course examines China's growing expansion into Africa. We ask whether this is neocolonialism, or a beneficial relationship for African countries. [ more ]

PSCI 249 / INST 249(F)From Beetroot to Zero Grazing: Comparative Response to AIDS in Africa

As AIDS in African countries grew from a few cases in the mid-1980s to more generalized levels by the mid-1990s, government policy varied widely. Consider that while Kenyan medical officials denied the existence of AIDS (insisting that the four deaths reported in the press were due to skin cancer), in Senegal, President Diouf openly acknowledged AIDS and launched a national prevention and control program. South African President Mbeki and his health minister questioned whether HIV causes AIDS and suggested a garlic, beetroot, and lemon concoction as treatment, while in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni developed a successful home-grown `Zero Grazing' campaign. Why did some African governments respond early and aggressively to AIDS, while others did essentially the opposite? What has worked and what hasn't in the fight against AIDS in African countries? Has political liberalization improved the responsiveness of African governments to AIDS? In this course we aim to better understand how politics and social factors shaped African countries' responses to AIDS. [ more ]

HIST 304 / AFR 304(F)South Africa and Apartheid

This course introduces students to the spatial, legal, economic, social and political structures that created Apartheid in South Africa, and to the factors that led to the collapse of the racist order. We will examine the many forms of black oppression and, also, the various forms of resistance to Apartheid. Some of the themes we will explore include industrialization and the formation of the black working classes, the constructions of race, ethnicities and sexualities, land alienation and rural struggles, township poverty and violence, Black education, and the Black Consciousness Movement. This EDI course explores the experiences and expressions of the culturally diverse peoples of African descent in the New World (and the Old), as well as the myriad ways in which they confront, negotiate, and at times challenge dominant U.S. and/or European hierarchies of race, culture, gender and class. [ more ]

WGSS 308 / AFR 308 / HIST 308(S)Gender and Society in Modern Africa

This course explores the constructions of feminine and masculine categories in modern Africa. We will concentrate on the particular history of women's experiences during the colonial and postcolonial periods. In addition, we will examine how the study of history and gender offers perspectives on contemporary women's issues such as female-circumcision, teen pregnancy, wife-beating, and "AIDS." [ more ]

HIST 483 T / AFR 483African Political Thought

Not offered this year

This course examines the ideas of major figures in the progressive tradition of African political thought. This emancipatory tradition emerged in societies shaped by racial, cultural, and economic exploitation, forcing both African men and women to address questions of identity and political action. Most members of this tradition also considered the ways in which uneven power relations within African communities shaped the personal and political landscapes. The Africans we will examine in this course drew on resources as varied as Pan-Africanism, Nationalism, Classical Liberalism, Social Democracy, Marxism, Black Consciousness, Negritude and Gender theory, yet each participated, at least implicitly, in a common African intellectual project: the meaning of Africa and of being African. [ more ]