African Studies


BIOL 134 / ENVI 134 (F)The Tropics: Biology and Social Issues

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 / AMST 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 ]

RLFR 203 / AFR 204 (F)Introduction to Francophone Studies

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 234 (S)Economics of Developing Countries

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 ]

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 nature and legacies of colonial rule and nationalist movements. From there, we consider the African state, highlighting the factors that have made some states weak and others strong. The course then turns to how ethnicity, class and civil society operate as bases of political mobilization. Finally, the course analyzes the causes, consequences and limitations of the recent waves of political and economic liberalization across Africa. [ more ]

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

Not offered this year

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

Not offered this year

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 483 (S)African 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 ]