Visit the Yale Online Course Information site for complete African Studies course descriptions.

Recent African Studies Courses | Selected African Studies-Related Courses

Two new Fall 2015 AFST Seminars!

The Agrarian Question and Development in Africa
AFST 410 (Friday 1:30-3:20pm, Location RKZ 06)
Instructor: Professor Lawyer Kafureka, Rice Visiting Professor (Makerere University, Institute of Social Research)

Course Description:
Historical examination of the complex issues relating to capital development and its penetration of agrarian Africa, particularly the different ways capital accumulates wealth from and impacts populations within the peasant, pastoral, and settler economies. Topics include the political economy of gender, ecology, old and new forms of land grabbing, and continued demand for land reforms. Special attention to relevant social science theories as well as the debates and policy practices through which they have evolved. (Students interested in seeing the syllabus for Professor Kafureka, please contact the Council’s office for a copy.)

Democratic Politics and Public Policy in Contemporary Africa
AFST 400/PLSC 401 (Tuesdays 3:30—5:20pm, WLH 205)
Instructor: Professor Jeremy Seekings, University of Cape Town (Director, Centre for Social Science Research)

Course Description:
Examination of how the resurgence of competitive, multi-party elections in Africa has re-infused democratic governance and transformed the process of public policy-making. Emphasis on the political landscape of public opinion and voting behavior; elections and political parties; the state and governance; as well as policy-making, with focus on economic and social policies.

Recent African Studies Courses

African Poverty and Western Aid (Christopher Blattman):
Assessment of reasons for Africa’s persistent poverty and violence. Theories of an African renaissance led by Western aid versus the inevitability of repeating the mistakes of the past. The politics and economics of poverty, aid, and growth in Africa.

Language and Identity in South Africa (Sandra Sanneh):
The role of language in the construction of identity in South Africa. Focus on shifting identities during the apartheid period and since independence.

The Rwandan Genocide in Comparative Context (David Simon):
A study of development assistance, the dominant feature of the political economies of some of the world’s poorest countries. The political and economic impact of aid in developing countries. The potential of a series of proposals to make aid a more effective instrument of development.

Comparative Perspectives on African Literatures (Ann Biersteker):
Introduction to a wide range of topics in African literature through English translations of works composed both in African and in European languages. Readings include poetry, novels, plays, essays, nonliterary texts, and autobiographies. Consideration of the symbiotic relationship between printed text and oral performance and between composition and transmission.

Language Planning in Sub-Saharan Africa (Kiarie Wa’Njogu):
Examination of language policies in selected sub-Saharan African countries. Analysis of language use in different contexts; assessment of the impact of globalization on African languages.

West African Islam: Jihad Tradition and Its Pacifist Opponents (Lamin Sanneh):
The impact of Islam on state and society, and the encounters of Muslim Africans first with non-Muslim societies in Africa and then with the modern West in the colonial and postcolonial periods. Focus on Muslim religious attitudes and responses to the secular national state and to the Western tradition of the separation of church and state.

Colonialism in Africa (Robert Harms):
Discussion of the theory and practices of colonialism in Africa. Topics include the motives for European expansion, the scramble for Africa, early colonialism, direct and indirect rule, “colonization of the mind,” the colonial state, the developmental state, late colonialism, and paths to decolonization.

Issues in the Analysis of African Politics (William Foltz):
Subjects to be discussed include the influence of pre-colonial systems and colonial rule on contemporary politics, states and statelessness, the politics of economic performance, communal conflict, and attempts at regional and sub-regional unity. Students prepare two bibliographic essays, one on the politics of an African country, one on an analytic problem area.

The State in Africa (Michael McGovern):
A discussion of African states that avoids the pitfall of characterizing them as failed, weak, fragile, or war-torn. Identification of what the states are, how they operate, and how they negotiate varying degrees of legitimacy and authority with the populations they govern.

The Political Economy of AIDS in South Africa (Nicoli Nattrass):
The impact of and responses to the AIDS pandemic in Africa examined from a comparative perspective. Focus on South and southern Africa.

Selected African Studies-Related Courses

Health Psychology in the Arab World and Africa (Lilia Labidi):
Exploration of attitudes toward health in the Arab world and Africa, with a focus on psychological and psychoanalytic perspectives. The postcolonial political and economic context; tensions between traditional and Western-oriented approaches to health care and to questions of poverty and governance. Special attention to women’s health issues.

Transnational and Religious Movements (Kamari Clarke):
Study of transnational institutions and practices, with a focus on globalized religious movements in the late twentieth century. The rise and expansion of transnational institutions and faith-based practices involved in the development of new transnational religious alliances. Ways that new religious movements are facilitated by the expansion of global formations; how these forces of change are leading to new sociopolitical, economic, and cultural landscapes.

Comparative Nationalism in North Africa and the Middle East (Jonathan Wyrtzen):
The rise of nationalism in the Maghred (or Arab West) and Mashriq (or Arab East). Introduction to major debates about nationalism; the influence of transnational (pan-Islamic and pan-Arab) ideologies, ethnicity, gender, and religion. Case studies from North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia) and the Middle East (Syria/Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq).

Beauty, Fashion, and Self-Styling (Graeme Reid):
Beauty, fashion, and style as aspects of self-identification and embodiment in everyday life. The relationship between the individual and society in different cultural and historical contexts, as interpreted by social science scholarship about the human body and its adornment.

Race and Class in Comparative Perspective (Jeremy Seekings):
The evolution and character of class stratification and racial inequalities in South Africa, Brazil, and the United States. Twentieth-century analyses of the three societies, including studies of caste and their critiques by Marxist theory. Contemporary issues such as urban inequalities, middle classes and underclasses, identity, and political mobilization.

All current and previous African Studies courses may be explored at the Yale Online Course Information site.