Courses - Fall 2022

AFRAMER 11 Introduction to African Studies

Agbiboa, Daniel - This course introduces students to the rich diversity and complexity of Africa, including its historical dynamics, economic developments, social and political practices, and popular cultures. Throughout, we assume that Africa is not a unique isolate but a continent bubbling with internal diversity, historical change, entrepreneurial spirit, and cultural links beyond its shores. Our goal is to train students to think rigorously about Africa from interdisciplinary and transnational perspectives. We also aim to equip students with the analytical tools necessary for recognizing and deconstructing reductionist and stereotyped narratives of Africa. The course is open to all students who are interested in exploring various dimensions of African life, politics, peoples and cultures from the past to the postcolony.

AFRAMER 20 Introduction to African Languages and Cultures

Mugane, John - This course is an introduction to Africans through African languages and cultures. The course explores how sub-Saharan Africans use language and cultural production to understand, organize, and transmit indigenous knowledge about the world to each other and to successive generations. Language serves as a road map to comprehending how social, political, and economic processes like kinship structures, the evolution of political offices, trade relations, and environmental knowledge develop. Oral histories and cultural and intellectual products like novels, music, poems, essays, films, and photographs offer opportunities to open eyes to, interact with, listen and speak to, and think alongside Africans they entrepreneurs, artists, authors, teachers, thinkers as they uncover, communicate, and debate the major topics and issues facing African societies and people today.

AFRAMER 91R Supervised Reading and Research

Brown, Vincent - 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 98 Junior Tutorial - African American Studies

Brown, Vincent - 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

Brown, Vincent - 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 99A Senior Thesis Workshop

Brown, Vincent - Thesis supervision under the direction of a member of the Department. Part one of a two part series.

AFRAMER 115Y Introduction to African Popular Culture

Ogene, Timothy - This course will introduce students to defining trends, movements, and practices in twentieth and twenty-first century popular culture in Africa. Focusing on the lives, interventions and innovative practices of key figures in music, television, fashion, dance, and publishing, we will examine the socio-political and the historical in relation to broader aesthetic and stylistic links to the rest of the world. This will be discussed in the larger context of colonial and postcolonial class formation, the afterlives of Cold War cultural diplomacy, access to education and accumulation of socio-political capital, the emergence of new conceptions of self and nationhood in relation to the global, new modes of cultural circulation, and the new lives of rediscovered archives. Figures such as Fela Kuti, Ousmane Sembene, Fela Sowande, J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, Miriam Makeba, Duro Olowu, Charley Boy, Dele Momodu, and William Onyeabor will be discussed alongside new figures, with a focus on lines of influence, self-fashioning, and the interface between the socio-political and the commercial. The ubiquitous power of diasporic/Afropolitan presence (and performance of access) will be considered alongside the local and vernacular/indigenous, and the cosmopolitan and secular will be discussed alongside the traditional and religious. The steady rise/use of social media platforms as generative, where new forms of culture-driven protests and negotiation of identities unfold, will be considered alongside the history of audio-visual communication and the emergence of modern African celebrity culture. This course is suitable for students with a general interest in the production, circulation, and consumption of culture in modern Africa.

AFRAMER 115Z African Literature and Culture since 1800

Ogene, Timothy - This course will bring together a variety of texts from the 19th century to present, and explore the various ways African writers and thinkers have consistently responded to socio-political, environmental, and cultural transformations on the continent and beyond. We will highlight and engage key moments and encounters that shaped the development of socio-political and cultural thought on the continent and its new diaspora. The broader contexts of the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial will be considered in relation to (and through) the emergence of a hybrid modernity and conception of self and nation. By bringing together the archives of white settler narratives in the 19th century, the novels and memoirs of the colonial era, and the literatures and art produced from the post–World War II era to the present, this course will negotiate a new way of thinking about the literatures and cultures of modern Africa.

AFRAMER 174X African Architecture

Blier, Suzanne - This class explores key forms of African architecture historically and into the present, with an emphasis on comparative issues of materials and technology, rural dwelling compounds (form, use, and adaptation), nomadic architecture, West African state architecture, Central African migrating capitals, architectures of colonial encounter, and contemporary architectural form and practice.

AFRAMER 180Y Social Theory, In and Out of Africa

Comaroff, Jean - Social Theory, In and Out of Africa examines some of the major con­cep­tual and methodological approaches that have shaped the history of social thought in, from, and about Africa. In so doing, it will address the historical roots, political invest­ments, and philosophical foundations of theory-making as they have taken shape in the crucible of empire, with Africa serving largely as the object of hegemonic Eurocentric knowledge-production. The readings will explore the interplay of scholarly practice and political historical struggle in the unfolding of social theory from colonial to postcolonial times. While “Africa” has long served as foil to European constructions of history, civilization, culture, and society, scholars on the continent have always disrupted these schemes, refuting and rewriting them in globally consequential ways. The course strives to open up a critical, open-ended discussion about the genealogy of disciplinary knowledge in the social sciences, especially as revealed by arguments emerging from the vexed place of Africa, in theory and in practice. Readings cover classic Africanist texts but focus mainly on scholarship emerging from the continent itself, examining a range of key issues – from Marxist and liberationist thought to questions of political economy, colonialism, development, gender, generation, and future-making.

AFRAMER 181X African Religion in the Diaspora

Olupona, Jacob - This course focuses on the history and phenomenology of African peoples’ religious experiences in the Americas. The historical and social processes that led to the emergence of African diasporic religions in Latin America and the Caribbean will form the core of our reading materials. We will examine the role of myth, ritual, arts, and symbols as well as the social and political processes that explain the evolution of Black Atlantic religious traditions as formed by African indigenous traditions, African Christianity, and African Islam. Using historical, ethnographic, and textual sources, the course will illuminate the lived religious experiences of enslaved Africans as well as new immigrant diaspora communities in South America, the Caribbean, and the USA. We will examine Africana religious parallels and divergences in religious practice and social identity. Guest lecturers will offer their expertise on the various religious processes and expressions of African peoples in the Americas, while contributing to broader conversations about the future of African religions in the diaspora and the sociopolitical challenges we face in today’s world, particularly how the devotees of these traditions face forms of racial, ethnic and religious discrimination in their various countries.

AFRAMER 184X Jim Crow: Histories and Revivals

Eatmon, Myisha - Some historians believe that people should understand the historical and political context of the world and communities in which they live and engage with facts and reality that makes them better-informed citizens. Being of that mindset, this course will be offered to students who want to engage critically with history and the present. The purpose of this course is three-fold. First, it is meant to allow students to begin to parse out the continuities and discontinuities between the Jim Crow era (broadly defined) and our current historical moment. Second, the course is meant to push students to engage with the historiographical debates surrounding the history of black lived experiences, race (not just black and white), and immigration (from South America, Central America, and Asia) as they relate to Jim Crow, structural racism, and white nationalism. Third, the course is meant to teach students how to write and support coherent historical arguments.

AFRAMER 190X The Anthropology of Law: classical, contemporary, comparative, and critical perspectives

Comaroff, John - The early weeks will be devoted to (i) classical themes in the field, among them the legal anthropology of conflict/dispute and the practical hermeneutics of the law in cross-cultural perspective; this will be followed by a discussion of (ii) “big” theoretical questions, old and new, including relationship between law and violence, the nature of sovereignty, and the (alleged) fetishism human rights. The later weeks will address (iii) the legal anthropology of colonialism and postcoloniality, addressing law and colonial state and the invention of customary law, postcolonialism and policulturalism, and law, disorder, and informal (“vigilante”) justice; (iv) crime and policing, and finally (v) lawfare, life, and the judicialization of politics. Throughout, attention will be given to comparative perspectives in both time and space – and to the lessons to be learned from the anthropology of law, and its decoloniality, for interrogating the present moment in the USA, Europe, and Africa. Each session, with the exception of the first (September 6), will begin with an overview of the topic under discussion, and end with a summary statement; in between, the set readings will be introduced by participants in the course, who will be expected to offer a critical synopsis of the most significant points at issue and raise questions for our collective conversation.

AFRAMER 215X Black Literary Avant-Gardes

McCarthy, Jesse - In his classic manifesto “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” Langston Hughes declared that his generation of artists and poets—upstarts coming of age in the roaring twenties—was determined to build what he called “temples for tomorrow.” How should we read that phrase today? Recent debates in Black Studies and in African American Literature over temporality, periodization, affect, and antagonism, suggest that we may not have an adequate theory of the avant-garde, or at least we may need to update the one we inherit from Poggioli (1968). By revisiting the avant-garde, we renew a concept that touches on a wealth of topics of interest to contemporary theoretical and methodological debates: taste, politics, publics and counter-publics, signifying, archives, transnationalism, translation, incompleteness, failure, and the circulation and manipulation of new medias. There are also the classic questions: Who gets to decide what constitutes an "avant-garde" or avant-gardes? What is the relationship between avant-garde artistic movements and political or militant ones? This course will explore all of these themes comparatively, with readings drawn from poems, plays, novels, films, and ranging widely across the African diaspora, without neglecting important formations in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America.


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