Courses

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

Fall 2018 Courses

South African Writing After Apartheid
AFST 015 (TTH11:35a-12:50pm)
Instructor: Professor Stephanie Newell 

An introduction to creative writing published in South African from the end of Apartheid in 1994 to the present. Close reading of contemporary fiction with additional material drawn from popular culture, including films, magazines and music.

The Rise and Fall of Atlantic Slavery
AFST 184 (TTH10:30a-11:20pm)
Instructor: Edward Rugemer 

The history of people of African descent throughout the Americas, from the first African American societies of the sixteenth century through the century-long process of emancipation

Introduction to Third World Studies
AFST 238 (TTH11:35a-12:50pm)
Instructor:Gary Okihiro

An introduction to the historical and contemporary theories and articulations of the Third World Studies (comparative ethnic studies) as an academic field and practice. Consideration of subject matters; methodologies and theories; literatures; and practitioners and institutional arrangements. 

Traditional and Contemporary Musics of Sub-Saharan Africa
AFST 262 (TTH11:35a-12:50pm)
Instructor: Michael Veal

A survey of the traditional and popular musics of black Africa, organized both by nations such as Ghana and by region, such as Senegambia. Introduction to the fundamental musical principles, materials and performance contexts of African music.

Social Enterprise in Developing Economies II
AFST 306 
Instructor: Robert Hopkins

Summer Research developed into a case-study on a topic related to the use of social enterprise in regional economic development. 

Nelson Mandela
AFST 324 (W3:30-5:20pm)
Instructor: Jonathan Steinberg

A study of Nelson Mandela’s life and career and the political and philosophical questions of his career engages. Students examine his ideas on race and on the colonial experience and compare them to those Mohandas Gandhi and Franz Fanon. Students also read recent philosophical work on forgiveness in order to critically assess Mandela’s politics on reconciliation. Examination of Mandela as a global celebrity, as well as the political career of Winnie Mandela.

African Encounters with Colonialism
AFST 333 (MW11:35a-12:25pm)
Instructor: Daniel Magaziner

How African societies and peoples encountered, engaged and endured the colonial and postcolonial world, from the arrival of Kiswahili-speaking traders at the shores of Lake Victoria in the 1840s through the rise and fall of European colonialism and the resulting forms of neocolonialism. Transformations and continues in African religious life; gendered sociability; popluar culture. 

Bureaucracy in Africa: Revolution, Genocide and Apartheid
AFST 366/567 (TH1:30-3:20pm)
Instructor: Jonathan Steinberg

A study of three major episodes in modern African history characterized by ambitious projects of bureaucratically driven change - apartheid and its aftermath. Rwanda’s genocide and post-genocide reconstruction, and Ethiopia’s revolution and its long aftermath. Examination of Weber’s theory bureaucracy. Scott’s thesis on high modernism, Beirschenk’s attempts to place African states in global bureaucratic history. Overarching theme is the place of bureaucratic ambitions and capacities in shaping African trajectories.

Comparative Nationalism in North Africa and the Middle East
AFST 372 (T9:250-11:15am)
Instructor: Jonathan Wyrtzen

The rise of nationalism in the Maghreb and Mashriq. Introduction to major debates about nationalism; the influence of transnational (pan-islamic and pan-Arab) ideologies, ethnicity, gender and religion. Case studies include Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Saudia Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, Morrocco, Western Sahara, Algeria and Berber and Kurdish movements. 

Child Health and Development in Africa
AFST 382 (F3:30-5:20p)
Instructor: Nicholas Alipui

Examination of the most critical issues and trends in child health, child survival and development and efforts to incorporate priorities of children and future generations after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly

Afterlives of Algeria’s Revolution
AFST 414 (M1:30-3:20p)
Instructor: Jill Jarvis

The Algerian War for Independence from France was the longest and most violent decolonizing war of the 20th century. This war and its aftermath transformed  political, social intellectual and artistic life on both sides of the Mediterraneano and it became a model for other decolonizing and civil rights movements across the world. Memory of this war continues to shape current debates in Europe and North Africa about state violence, terrorism, racism, censorship, immigration, feminism, human rights, and justice. Through study of fiction, film, testimonies, graphic novels, and theater, this seminar charts the war’s surprising and enduring legacies. Films may include Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, Haneke’s Caché, and Panijel’s Octobre à Paris. Literary works by Djebar, Camus, Sebbar, Etcherelli, Dib, Cixous, Kateb, Fanon, De Beauvoir, Mechakra.

The Fathers and Daughters of African Literature

AFST 445 (T9:25-11:15a)
Instructor: Meredith Shepard

What do we read when we read African Literature? For most of the twentieth century, African literature was defined by its ‘fathers’. The 21st century has seen an explosion of writing by African women. These women writers take up many of the same themes as their male predecessors, but with the new perspectives and aesthetic techniques. 

Challenges to Realism in Contemporary African Fiction
AFST 449 (T9:25-11:15a)
Instructor: Stephanie Newell

Introduction to experimental African novels that challenge realist and documentary modes of representation. Topics include mythology, gender subversion, politics, the city, migration and the self. Ways of reading African and postcolonial literature through the lenses of identity, history and nation. 

Slavery and the Slave Trade in Africa 
AFST 486 (W1:30-3:20p)
Instructor: Robert Harms
The slave trade from the African perspective. Analysis of why slavery developed in Africa and how it operated. The long-term social, political and economic effects of the Atlantic slave trade. 
 
West African Islam: Jihad Tradition and its Pacifist Opponents 
AFST 487 (W3:30-5:20p)
Instructor: Lamin Sanneh
The influence of Islam on state and society, and the encounters of Muslim Africans 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 secular national state and to the Western tradition of the seperation of church and state. 
 
Gateway to Africa
AFST 505 (Th3:30-5:20p)
Instructors: Michael Cappello & Veronica Waweru
This multidisciplinary seminar highlights the study of contemporary Africa through diverse academic disciplines. Each session features a Yale faculty scholar or guest speaker who shares their unique disciplinary perspective and methodological approach to studying Africa. Topics include themes drawn from the humanities, social sciences and public health with faculty representing expertise from across Yale’s graduate and professional school departments. 
 
Africa, Politics, Anthropology
AFST 639 (W1:30-3:20p)
Instructor: Louisa Lombard
AA historical-anthropological study of politics in Africa. How have anthropologists made sense of the workings of African politics, both those of state and nonstateactors? This course charts how African states came into being, how they operate, and how state agents and the people they govern negotiate legitimacy, authority and belonging. 
 
Methods and Practices in African History
AFST 832 (W1:30-3:20p)
Instructor: Daniel Magaziner
This course provides a survey of African historical methods, considering topics from the use of historical linguistics and oral tradition to creatice archival and narrative methodologies. We read monographs and other scholarly works, including classics in the discipline and new methodologically innovative studies. 
 
Environmental History of Africa
AFST 839 (W9:25-11:15a)
Instructor: Robert Harms
An examination of the interaction between people and their environment in Africa and the ways in which this interaction has affected or shaped the course of African history. 

Islands, Oceans, Deserts
AFST 969 (W3:30-5:20p)
Instructor: Jill Jarvis

This seminar brings together literary and theoretical works that chart planetary relations and connections beyone the paradigm of franchophonie. Comparative focus on the poetics and politics of spaces shaped by intersecting routes of colonization and forced migrations. 

Recent African Studies Courses

The Agrarian Question and Development in Africa (Professor Lawyer Kafureka, Rice Visiting Professor (Makerere University, Institute of Social Research)
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 ( Professor Jeremy Seekings)

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.

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.