The immersion in African studies enables students to gain knowledge about African societies, cultures, histories, and modern political realities, and diasporic communities in different parts of the world.
Notes about this immersion:
This immersion is closed to students who are majoring in international and global studies who have chosen a specialization in African studies.
At least one course must be taken from either INGS, ANTH, or SOCI. Topics in Global Literature (ENGL 416) may be substituted when the topic is Caribbean literature.
Students are required to complete at least one course at the 300-level or above as part of the immersion.
The program code for African Studies Immersion is AFRICA-IM.
This course introduces students to processes of interconnection, local, regional, national, and global, that have altered and continue to impact life in Africa, taking into account the enormous impact of Africans on one another and on those of us living outside of the continent. In the course, we will focus on how past, present, and anticipated future events in African movements of people, ideas, and things, across time and space effect the reception of new events. We will pay particularly close attention to how the relationships of time and space are formulated and understood by Africans in the present. While the historical past is never completed, but continuous in the present, its diverse contours lead to differently remembered, embodied, and enacted expressions. We will evaluate these diverse expressions in pre-colonial, colonial, and neo-colonial encounters as they have changed ideas of self and other, political philosophies and political economic systems, genders and sexualities, generational relations, religions, expressive arts, violence, and health on the African continent and around the globe.
This course examines the spread of Islam beyond its origins in the Middle East, and the cultural and social clashes, but also the mutual adjustments that have followed. This course explores core tenets of Islam, but also how its practices and beliefs are altered as practitioners in different countries alternately adopt, co-opt, massage, react to, and reject elements in accordance with the meaningful social, cultural, and political lives they build for themselves. The compatibility of Islam with Western society is often debated in contemporary public discourse. This debate is typically marked by an assumption that Islamic beliefs clash with Western secular democratic ideals, an assumption which results in tensions over mosque building, headscarves, and other public signs of Islamic faith. We will explore the diverse ways of being Muslim from a cross-cultural perspective and the sometimes-challenging negotiation of fulfilling these religious tenets while living in Muslim-minority places.
African Film and Popular Culture
Popular culture has a political dimension. Created and consumed by ordinary people, African popular cultures, including film and popular cinema, are linked to political processes as forms of expression, perspective, and critique. As a result of accessible digital formats for producing and distributing films and other popular genres, African film and cinema is literally exploding onto the global scene, dynamically affecting intercultural communication and African economies. Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, for instance, is now the third largest film producer in the world, competing with Hollywood and Bollywood for audiences and market share. This course introduces students to African film as a genre of popular culture and explores the political contexts in which it is forged. Throughout the semester, we consider the diversity and complexity of African film as a creative genre and engage in debates about forms of intercultural communication that challenge contemporary African artists and consumers. By the end of the course, students will have gained an understanding of the enormous impact of popular cultures through which many Africans express political sentiments that might otherwise be suppressed.
Genocide and Post-Conflict Justice
The destruction and survival of societies often hinges upon the ideas and the social, cultural constructions of identity and belonging. When ideas fail to incorporate people, essentialist categories of identity, historical memory, and accounts of extreme violence become interrelated, potent sources of destruction. Slavery and exclusive ownership of resources leave people starving or living in perilously polluted environments. Globalizing cultural economies threaten local systems and self-representation. Group identities may be sites of crises within nation-states and global political, economic, and cultural processes. In this course, we will take critical, anthropological approaches to studies of ethnocide, genocide, and post-conflict justice. Students will use critical, anthropological approaches to assess ethnocides and genocides from the 19th century forced assimilation and slaughter of Native Americans and Amazonian Indians to more recent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Sudan, to understand the impact of globalization on techniques and technologies of genocides, the legal, moral/personal responsibility for genocides, media representations of genocides, and the affects of cultural, historical memory and social, global inequities upon future genocides. Students will use anthropological perspectives on genocide to assess post-conflict concepts of justice, reconstruction and reconciliation and local-global debates about their cultural resonance and effectiveness.
Culture and Politics in the Middle East
With a focus on everyday life in families, communities, and nations, we examine the diverse cultures and peoples of the Middle East in the context of political and economic forces that have shaped their lives in the past and present. We examine European colonialism and its modern-day legacies, including ethnic inequalities, economic vulnerability, labor migration, urbanism, and social unrest. We look at how art, music, oral traditions, and literatures have engaged critically with the forces of political change and neo-colonialism. We consider political activism, religious diversity, changing experiences and expectations of women and men, rebellion, revolution, and war, and the impacts of and creative responses to globalization. The cultural, political, social, and religious dynamics of Middle Eastern peoples will be discussed from a humanistic perspective.
This course examines the impact of global dynamics on cities from the early 20th century to the present. By tracing urban formations from metropolis to global city, emphasis will be placed on the making of identities, communities, and citizens in the architectural spaces, cultural places, ethnic zones, and media traces of urban life in the context of globalization.
We see others as we imagine them to be, in terms of our values, not as they see themselves. This course examines ways in which we understand and represent the reality of others through visual media, across the boundaries of culture, gender, and race. It considers how and why visual media can be used to represent or to distort the world around us. Pictorial media, in particular ethnographic film and photography, are analyzed to document the ways in which indigenous and native peoples in different parts of the world have been represented and imagined by anthropologists and western popular culture.
Survey of African-American Music
This course is a survey of African American music through an examination of the major forms of music-making and dance developed among African Americans in the United States from the early 17th century to the present. A brief introduction to West African cultural characteristics, especially music and dance, as well as discussions of the African diaspora in the New World, will serve as background for this survey.
This course provides an overview of African-American art, presented in three periods: from slavery through Reconstruction, from the Harlem Renaissance to the end of the 1930's, and modern and postmodern movements following World War II. There will be comparisons with representations of African Americans in film, music, and literature as we move through these periods. We will be sensitive to the development of artists' aesthetic language and the evolution of social and political points of view expressed in artists' work. We will examine the role of institutions in promoting African American art.
American Slavery and Freedom
This class will survey the history of slavery and freedom in the United States from the establishment of global slave systems in the colonial period through emancipation movements during the Civil War era. Students will examine key economic, political, and social issues (from the development of slave labor systems to strategies of resistance among enslaved peoples) as well as the meaning of black freedom struggles during key eras (such as the American Revolutionary era and Civil War).
Culture and Politics in Urban Africa
Global Slavery and Human Trafficking
This course will describe the historical and contemporary conditions that have given rise to the distinctive cultural orientation of African Americans in the United States. Students will be provided with an explication of African American culture as it is perceived by the majority of African Americans. Furthermore, the course will outline an operational articulation of the African American experience, and analyze the characterological responses that result from it.
Minority Group Relations
The course will provide a context in which to examine the multiple and contradictory social relations of domination, subordination, resistance, and empowerment. The kinds of questions we will explore focus on how power, knowledge, meaning, and cultural representation are organized. We will analyze a variety of political and ideological themes which bear upon the formation of minority group relations, their identity and how these themes complicate the processes by which people construct their understanding of the nation, world, of others, and themselves. Through reflection on theoretical texts and fictional works, as well as film and other popular media, we will consider for ourselves how culture is differently represented and signified, and how the politics of understanding and misunderstanding minority relations work through practices within and outside cultural institutions.
Globalization and Security
This course focuses on the shifting relationships between globalization and security. The emphasis is on security matters that arise with view to effective population management and control over the circulation of people, goods, capital, crime, diseases, and resources. The analytic framework uses the concept of governmentality to examine the management of populations and their welfare on a global scale. Under globalization, people and populations can be managed through security measures that are implemented to address specific cross-border problems, such as immigration and labor migration, terrorism, the flow of drugs, epidemics, human trafficking, and control of natural resources. The course examines these security issues in a globalizing world.
Disaster, Public Health Crisis, and Global Responses
Disasters as global states of emergency result from complex relationships between human populations and environmental hazards. Disasters threaten sustainable development, especially in the global south and among the world’s most vulnerable people. Global states of emergency incur significant human and economic costs, which, in addition to increasing demographic, environmental, socio-economic and related pressures, result in increasing population vulnerability. Explanations of the causes and consequences of disasters include examinations of how human vulnerability is impacted by interactions among diverse social, economic, and other factors with environmental hazards. We will discuss social vulnerability theories; sustainable development theories; the causes and consequences of disasters and interventions to manage and reduce these risks.
Global Exiles of War and Terror
Daily we watch, seemingly helplessly, as people are displaced from their communities, homelands, and countries and subsequently seek asylum around the world, sometimes within our own local communities. Causes of displacement include war, violence, persecution, and modes of terror that increasingly affect the lives of women and children. In addition to the loss of human life and potential, the ensuing consequences of violent displacement include poverty, disease, physical and psychological trauma, hopelessness, and vulnerability to human rights abuses. In this course, we explore how the rights and dignity of refugees can be protected. We also examine resettlement processes and, for those who are eventually repatriated, we address how they can successfully reintegrate into reconstructing societies that remain barely functional. Most importantly, we consider how the trauma of displacement can be minimized.
* At least one course must be taken from the "INGS," "ANTH," or "SOCI" disciplines.