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 119X  Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food

Martin, Carla Denny - This course will examine the sociohistorical legacy of chocolate, with a delicious emphasis on the eating and appreciation of the so-called "food of the gods." Interdisciplinary course readings will introduce the history of cacao cultivation, the present day state of the global chocolate industry, the diverse cultural constructions surrounding chocolate, and the implications for chocolate's future of scientific study, international politics, alternative trade models, and the food movement. Assignments will address pressing real world questions related to chocolate consumption, social justice, responsible development, honesty and the politics of representation in production and marketing, hierarchies of quality, and myths of purity..

AFRAMER 123Z  American Democracy

West, Cornel & Unger, Roberto Mangabeira - Democracy, inequality, and nationalism in America.  The white working class and American politics. Class and race. Identities and interests.  Conditions for socially inclusive economic growth and for the deepening and dissemination of the knowledge economy. Alternative directions of institutional change, viewed in light of American history. Democratizing the market and deepening democracy. Self-reliance and solidarity. We explore and discuss the past, present, and especially the future of the American experiment among ourselves and with invited guests: thinkers, politicians, social activists, and entrepreneurs.

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 131Y  Black Womens Voices in the #MeToo Era

Chavers, Linda Doris Mariah - When accepting the Oscar for Best Actress in 2015 Patricia Arquette said the following: “The truth is, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are at play that do affect women, and it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we all fought for to fight for us now.”  This course examines why such statements are part of a larger and longer tradition of disappearing black women and why they are popular in the cultural zeitgeist. Through extensive reading and tough discussion this class examines the current discourse around sexual harassment and assault from the #MeToo movement through the informed lens of Harriet Jacobs’s slave narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Both “texts” involve navigating spaces of subjugation and supremacy and yet one voice has remained steadily ignored in mainstream audiences. We will also look at the intersection of race and gender that Incidents reveals and trace how these remain intact or not through today.

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 152Y  20th Century African American Literature

Glenda Carpio - Close readings of major 20th-century writers in the context of cultural history. (I) From the Harlem Renaissance to the Federal Writers' Project: Alain Locke, Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, Jessie Fauset, George Schuyler, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright. (II) From World War II to the present: Ralph Ellison, Ann Petry, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, Ishmael Reed, Charles Johnson, Rita Dove, Colson Whitehead, Paul Beatty.  Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30am 11: 45am (Eastern)

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 174  The African City

Blier, Suzanne Preston - This seminar investigates critical issues in Africa's rich urban centers. Architecture, city planning, spatial framing, popular culture, and new art markets will be examined.

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 191X  African American Lives in the Law

Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks - This seminar focuses on biographical and autobiographical writings in a historical examination of the role of the individual in the American legal process. We will seek to understand how specific African Americans (as lawyers, judges, and litigants) made a difference-how their lives serve as a "mirror to America"-and also to understand the ways personal experience informs individual perspectives on the law and justice.

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 192Y  The Paradox of the Garden: Good and Evil in Paradise

Kincaid, Jamaica - Selected readings from The Book of Genesis, Frederic Douglass, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, William Bartram, Anne Spencer among others.  Meets Tuesdays, 12:00pm to 2:45pm (Eastern).

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

Comaroff, Jean - This course is taught in conjunction with, and as part of, the African Studies Workshop at Harvard (ASW). It consists of two components: (i) an under/graduate student seminar component, to be held every Monday at 9.45-11.30, at which the class will discuss an original research paper, and (ii) a public session, held every Monday afternoon at 2.00-4.00, at which the author of that paper will present it in person to an audience composed of faculty, students, and Africanists from elsewhere. During the semester, we shall explore Africa’s changing place in the world, and the new economies, legalities, socialities, and cultural forms that have arisen there. We shall also examine the claim that the African present is a foreshadowing of processes beginning to occur elsewhere across the globe; that, therefore, it is a productive source of theory and analysis about current conditions world-wide.

AFRAMER 215  Queer/ing Ethnography: A Practicum

Meiu, George Paul - This workshop offers students an opportunity to envision and formulate research projects that (1) involve a substantial ethnographic component and that (2) are centrally informed by gender and sexuality studies, queer and feminist methodologies, queer of color critique, postcolonial theory, and/or queer theory from the Global South. Students will participate in a weekly seminar where, through intensive writing exercises, they will identify social phenomena of interest and craft conceptual questions and methodological tools to research them. The goal of the course is to help students imagine cutting-edge ethnographic research projects on issues related to, among other things, sexuality, gender, intimacy, love, kinship, and friendship in contexts shaped by the legacies of colonialism, racism, capitalism, and globalization. The workshop will also host a few speakers who will trace back their award-winning books in queer ethnography to their work as doctoral students. The seminar is open primarily to graduate students in the early stages of envisioning and designing doctoral projects in African and African America Studies, Anthropology, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and related fields. Enrollment is limited to nine students. Thursdays, 12 pm to 2:45 pm (Eastern)

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