Courses - Spring 2021

AFRAMER 91R  Supervised Reading and Research

Carpio, Glenda R. - Students wishing to enroll must petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval, stating the proposed project, and must have permission of the proposed instructor.  Ordinarily, students are required to have taken some coursework as background for their project.

AFRAMER 97  Sophomore Tutorial:  Pan-African Diasporic Imaginations: History, Concepts, Artistic Expressions

Monson, Ingrid T. - This course explores the long history of creating pan-African solidarity among peoples of African descent in the Caribbean, North America, Latin America and on the African continent.  Beginning with the Haitian Revolution and its lessons for understanding making history of diasporic past we examine the transformation of African identities under slavery, the economics of racial capitalism and then explore the origins of Pan-African thought.  We examine the differences between Marcus Garvey’s and W.E.B. Du Bois’s pan-African visions and the influence of these ideas on anti-colonial struggles in Africa and the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. In the second half of the course we examine artistic expressions in music, theater, and film, first in the 60s and 70s in North American, and then more in more recent works of Afro-futurism and hip hop in the U.S. Brazil, and Nigeria.

AFRAMER 98  Junior Tutorial - African American Studies

Carpio, Glenda R. - Students wishing to enroll must petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval, stating the proposed project, and must have the permission of the proposed instructor. Ordinarily, students are required to have taken some coursework as background for their project.

AFRAMER 98A  Junior Tutorial - African Studies

Carpio, Glenda R. - Students wishing to enroll must petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies for approval, stating the proposed project, and must have the permission of the proposed instructor.
Ordinarily, students are required to have taken some coursework as background for their project.

AFRAMER 99B  Senior Thesis Workshop

Carpio, Glenda R. - Thesis supervision under the direction of a member of the Department. Part two of a two part series.

AFRAMER 129XB  Philosophy, Social Thought, and Criticism in African American Studies (B):  Graduate Workshop Seminar

Terry, Brandon Michael - A year-long research and reading course exploring classic and contemporary efforts to develop interdisciplinary approaches drawn from philosophy, intellectual history, social and political theory, and socio-cultural criticism to explore central questions and thinkers in the field of African American Studies. With visiting scholars, students will engage recent work in the discipline, including the ethics of the oppressed, the dynamics of white supremacy, the relationship between racism and capitalism, intersectionality, the interpretation of African American intellectuals, and more. The course is for students who have an interest in pursuing independent research in African American Studies informed by these disciplinary approaches and their field-defining debates. Students must complete both terms of this course (parts A and B) within the same academic year in order to receive credit.

AFRAMER 130Y  Mobility, Power and Politics

Agbiboa, Daniel - This course incorporates insights from the new mobilities paradigm in studying the linkages between movement, power and politics in the contemporary era. The course will discuss how issues of mobility are central to many lives and many organizations, and how movement intersects with the spatialization and materialization of power, difference and inequality within societies. Students will come to an understanding of how mobility, and control over mobility, both reflects and reinforces power; why mobile subjects are increasingly a risk and at risk; and the impact of the regulation and governance of mobility on conflict, security and development. Students will also benefit from the new light that this course sheds on how issues of mobility and immobility intersect with security and development in at least five core areas: (1) questions of power and government (2) spaces of regulation and intervention (3) the quandary of freedom and control in a globalized world; (4) infrastructures that enable and constrain movement; and (5) issues of justice and ethics. Confirming the analytical appeal of the mobilities paradigm, this course will serve as a melting pot for a variety of disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, geography, gender studies, social work and social policy, disability and health studies, conflict analysis and resolution, urban studies, political science and international relations. Topics will include mobility and terrorism after 9/11; mobility and mobilization of the urban poor; youth, mobility and being ‘stuck’; social mobility; roads, corruption and policing; mobility and il/legality; gender and mobility; and mobility as fieldwork.

AFRAMER 142  Hiphop and Don't Stop. I Am Hiphop:  Build, Respect, Represent

Morgan, Marcyliena - This reading seminar takes up the question of how and why Hiphop art, culture and politics has taken over and dominated American public, youth, popular culture and African American discourse in general.   I AM HIPHOP is a vivid exploration into the origins, culture, style, art and enduring influence of hiphop as a uniquely American black cultural art form adapted around the globe. It explores how hiphop language ideology has penetrated the ‘arts’ and American culture by identifying and reframing life in the 21st century. Readings will be on theoretical, ideological and philosophical arguments embedded in hiphop artistic practices in the U.S. and throughout the world.  We will examine hiphop’s influence in all genres including the arts, social sciences, business, etc. The course will examine how people throughout the world incorporate hiphop edicts to disseminate public and popular ideologies to represent individuals, neighborhoods, cities and nations.

AFRAMER 154X  Learning Languages:  Communication, Acquisition, Translation and Authorship from Africa and Beyond

Mugane, John M - This interdisciplinary, experimental, social engagement course explores the foundations of language learning and communicative competence from an African perspective. What do language learners at Harvard have to learn from the polyglots of rural Cameroon, the transnational traders of the Sahara Desert, the code-switching “beach boys” of the Swahili Coast, and the code-mixing/code-scrambling urban dwellers? How might studying language acquisition, communicative commerce, and the pragmatics of association and affiliation from Africa help to make us better language learners, translators, and global citizens in an increasingly connected world? What does it mean to “know” a language? How is “fluency” best achieved? Is language best understood as a “skill” as an “opportunity” as a “space” -what? What happens when we start to think of language not just as an avenue but as a locus of knowledge production, wealth generation and cultural participation. How does fluency (competence and performance) through social engagement learning compare to fluency attained through scholarly study? Calling into question dominant Western modes of language teaching and learning, this course explores new theoretical, methodological, and practical approaches to language learning, translation, and intellectual engagement. This course will allow students to bring their own linguistic questions and projects into the classroom, while at the same time studying the Harvard African Language Program’s ongoing experiment in language teaching and learning. Encouraging hands-on, practical language learning, the course will offer students the opportunity to attain new linguistic capacities and strategies through “shock language lessons,” to practice collaborative translations with language speakers and tradition bearers, and to undertake their own communicative adventures in local communities. Readings will include a wide range of interdisciplinary texts, including Nigerian novels, Anthropological theory, Swahili rap lyrics, historical Linguistics, Zulu praise poetry, Colonial-era grammars, and STS (science and technology studies) ethnographies. Coursework will include translations of foreign language texts, reading responses, social engagement work, and a final analytic or creative project.

AFRAMER 160  Christianity, Identity, and Civil Society in Africa

Olupona, Jacob - This course is a historical survey of the centuries-old Christian traditions in Africa. It begins with an outline of the trajectory of Christianity's origins and presence in Africa from its beginning in ancient Mediterranean lands through the early period of European missionaries to the contemporary period. The course provides the ethnography of the old mission churches, indigenous independent African churches, and contemporary evangelical and Pentecostal Charismatic movements. The course explores the role of Christianity in relation to historical, cultural, social, and material realities of the African continent. It examines a broad range of topical issues related to conversion, missionization, and the development and growth of Christian agencies in Africa in relation to the construction of social, theological, and religious identities, as well as Christianity's response to cultural pluralism, nationhood, citizenship, and civil society.   Jointly offered in the Harvard Divinity School as a HDS 2337.

AFRAMER 186X  Childhood in African America

Bernstein, Robin M - The seminar examines the historical development of religion in Nigeria and explores its intersection with ethnic identity, culture, and society in pre-colonial, colonial, and contemporary periods. The course provides an understanding of various cultural tradition, historical events, and social forces that have shaped Nigeria's religious express. Many topical issues will be explored such as indigenous religious culture, Christian and Muslim identities, civil religion, and civil society and democratization, as well as religion and politics in present-day Nigeria.

AFRAMER 192X  Religion and Society in Nigeria

Olupona, Jacob - Literary representations of memory and trauma in African postcolonial and contemporary literature will be the main focus of this course. In order to understand how trauma impacts individuals in their relationship with their physical world, and how in a very unique way, characters cope with their traumatic reality, we will be analyzing "structural disorder" and "historical event" narratives, including novels and short fiction by Aminata Forna, Boubacar Boris Diop, Tayeb Salih, Yaa Gyasi, Ben Okri, Chris Abani, Jennifer Makumbi, and others. Our examination of these texts will be supplemented by trauma theory and its various subcategories that include the study of memory and forgiveness, retrospective narrative, testimony and bearing witness, PTSD, mourning, war and violence, transgenerational trauma as well as healing and working through trauma.

AFRAMER 196Y African Literature and the Poetics of Memory

Coulibaly, Bojana - Literary representations of memory and trauma in African postcolonial and contemporary literature will be the main focus of this course. In order to understand how trauma impacts individuals in their relationship with their physical world, and how in a very unique way, characters cope with their traumatic reality, we will be analyzing "structural disorder" and "historical event" narratives, including novels and short fiction by Aminata Forna, Boubacar Boris Diop, Tayeb Salih, Yaa Gyasi, Ben Okri, Chris Abani, Jennifer Makumbi, and others. Our examination of these texts will be supplemented by trauma theory and its various subcategories that include the study of memory and forgiveness, retrospective narrative, testimony and bearing witness, PTSD, mourning, war and violence, transgenerational trauma as well as healing and working through trauma.

AFRAMER 199X  Social Revolutions in Latin America

de la Fuente, Alejandro - This course seeks to explain why social revolutions have taken place in Latin America and analyzes their impact on the region. The objective is for students to gain a critical understanding of the origins, development, and impact of revolutionary movements in Latin America during the twentieth century. We will try to identify: (1) the historical factors that led to revolutions in the region (the so-called revolutionary situations); (2) the strategies followed by different movements and how successful they were; (3) the programs and policies instituted by the different revolutionary governments; (4) the social and political forces opposed to those policies, including international forces; and (5) the ability of these revolutionary movements to hold on to power for extended periods of time. The course examines several case studies, which may include Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, and the so-called "Bolivarian revolution" of Venezuela. Our goal is to identify similarities and differences among these cases.

AFRAMER 201  Social Theory, In and Out of Africa

Comaroff, Jean - Social Theory, In and Out of Africa examines, in critical depth, some of the major conceptual and methodological approaches that have shaped the history of Euro-American social sciences, and social thought more broadly, from the vantage of theory-making in, from, and about Africa. In so doing, it will address (i) the historical roots, political investments, and philosophical foundations of these approaches and (ii) their significance for contemporary concerns in the social sciences and humanities at large. The course aims to explore the interplay of scholarly practice and its wider context in the unfolding development of social thought from colonial to postcolonial times. As such, it strives to open up a critical, open-ended discussion about the genealogy of disciplinary knowledge in the social sciences, especially as revealed by the ambivalent place of Africa, in theory.   Beginning with the structural functionalist tradition that dates back to the writings of Emile Durkheim, the course will move through early British anthropology, structuralism and its various transformations, interpretivist approaches, and Marxism/s in Africa – their take on kinship, politics, religion, economy, and culture. It will go on to explore colonialism and postcoloniality, focusing on, among other things, gender and sexuality, media and aesthetics, and end with a consideration of contemporary debates surrounding Africa, in theory.

AFRAMER 209B  Africa Rising? New African Economies/Cultures and Their Global Implications

Comaroff, Jean - In a story titled Africa Rising (2011), The Economist argued that the continent epitomizes both the "transformative promise of [capitalist] growth" and its bleakest dimensions. This workshop will explore Africa's changing place in the world - and the new economies, legalities, socialities, and cultural forms that have arisen there. It will also interrogate the claim that the African present is a foreshadowing of processes beginning to occur elsewhere; that, therefore, it is a productive source of theory about current conditions world-wide. The workshop, open to faculty and students, will meet Mondays, 6:15-8:15. 15 students will be permitted to take it as a course; they will also meet on Mondays, 12:00-1:20. Grades will be based on participation and a term essay.

AFRAMER 217X  Themes in the History of African American Political Thought:  Seminar

Terry, Brandon Michael - This seminar will closely examine influential figures and texts in the history of African-American political thought from slavery to the contemporary era. We will critically evaluate, assess, and critique a range of African American authors and their interlocutors across genres (e.g., philosophy, literature, music, etc.) to better understand and build upon the development of key traditions, themes, and concepts. This year’s theme will be the idea of “crime” in black politics and political thought, with special eye toward illuminating contemporary debates around hyperincarceration, public safety, and the political ethics of social movements. Open to graduates and undergraduates.

AFRAMER 310  Individual Reading Tutorial

Allows students to work with an individual member of the faculty in a weekly tutorial.

AFRAMER 390  Individual Research

Requires students to identify and carry out a research project under the guidance of a member of the faculty. Graduate students may use this course to begin work on the research paper required for admission to candidacy.

AFRAMER 391  Directed Writing

Requires students to identify a major essay and carry it out under the guidance of a member of the faculty. Graduate students may use this course to begin to work on the research paper that is a requirement of admission to candidacy.

AFRAMER 392  Teaching, Writing, and Research

To be used to enroll in credits for teaching, writing, and research

AFRAMER 398  Reading and Research

Permission of the instructor and the Director of Graduate Studies is required for enrollment.

AFRAMER 399  Direction of Doctoral Dissertations