Courses - Spring 2022


AFRAMER 10  Introduction to African American Studies

Gates Jr., Henry Louis; Hammonds, Evelynn - This course will examine canonical texts of the Afro-American intellectual tradition.  W.E.B.Du Bois, Lorraine Hansberry, and James Baldwin will set the scene and stage for other towering figures such as Walker, Douglass, Morrison, Wright, Drake, Frazier, Lorde, Wilson, Gates, Cooper, Baraka (Jones), Malcolm X, and others.

AFRAMER 20  Introduction to African Languages and Cultures

Mugane, John M - 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.  As a Social Engagement course, AFRAMER 20 will wed scholarly inquiry and academic study to practical experience and personal involvement in the community. Students will be given the opportunity to study Africans, their languages, and their cultures from the ground up, not only through textbooks and data sets but through personal relationships, cultural participation, and inquisitive explorations of local African heritage communities with Harvard's African Language Program instructors as guides. Throughout the semester you will be asked to employ video production, ethnographic research, creative writing, “social-portraiture,” GIS mapping, and linguistic study as you engage with Africans, their languages, and their cultures. By examining individual lives of select Africans, linguistic debates, cultural traditions and interrogating their import in the daily lives of Boston-area Africans, we hope to bridge the divide between grand theories and everyday practices, between intellectual debates and the lived experiences of individuals, between the American academy and the African world. Ultimately, this course aims to see and present Africans themselves as visible, audible and coherent articulators at the center of professional work and disciplinary study of Africa.

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

Monson, Ingrid - 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

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 98B  Senior Thesis Workshop

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

AFRAMER 109Y  Social Justice and the Documentary Film

Bald, Vivek - In this course, students will watch, analyze, discuss and write about a series of documentary films tied to movements for social justice; they will also work in teams over the course of the semester to produce their own short issue-based documentaries.  We will focus particularly on two historical moments in which social protest and new media technologies combined in generative and subversive ways: the period of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when hand-held sync-sound 16mm film cameras first became accessible – including to those engaged in or aligned with the Anti-War, Black Power, Xicanx, Puerto Rican, Asian American, Native American, Feminist, Labor, and Queer Liberation movements; and the past two decades, in which the ubiquity of cell-phone cameras, social media, and the internet as a streaming platform have helped fuel the rapid growth of new and ongoing movements for justice, including Black Lives Matter, #metoo, and the immigrant rights movement. As we consider each film and each moment, we will assess the makers’ goals and intentions, the choices they made in terms of how to shoot, edit, and narrativize different political moments and struggles, and how their films, historical or contemporary, resonate and create meaning for audiences in the present. Limited to 20.

AFRAMER 113X  Fiction Writing: Workshop

Kincaid, Jamaica - A seminar/workshop. Readings include Bruno Schultz, Jean Toomer, Robert Walser, and Rimbaud's Illuminations, among others. Taught at English Department as ENGLISH CVR.

AFRAMER 131Y  Black Womens Voices in the #MeToo Era

Chavers, Linda - 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 136X  Studies in Afropolitanism

Ogene, Timothy - This course will consider various forms of Afropolitanism in contemporary African and Afro-diasporic literatures and cultures.  We will discuss the global genealogies of Afropolitanism, referencing the histories of global cosmopolitan practices with a focus on Kwame Anthony Appiah’s notion of a “rooted cosmopolitanism” and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o’s concept of a “globalectical imagination.” Authors and critics to read will include Teju Cole, Alain Mabanckou, Jamal Mahjoub, Namwali Serpell, Achille Mbembe, Abiola Irele, Carla Coetzee, Emma Dabiri, and more. Visual artists to consider will include Yinka Shonibare, Wangechi Mutu, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Julie Mehretu, Jadé Fadojutimi, and more. This course is open to students with a demonstrated interest in Africa and its relationship to the rest of the world.

AFRAMER 142  Hiphop Worldwide

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

Carpio, Glenda - 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.

AFRAMER 171X  African Art:  Introduction and Core Issues

Blier, Suzanne - Faculty of Arts & Sciences as HAA 195

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 181Y  Explorations in Afro-Latin American Art

de la Fuente, Alejandro; Cummins, Thomas B.F. - This seminar explores how visual artists and the visual arts have contributed to debates on race, citizenship, and nation in Latin America, from the colonial period to the present. We approach the history of art in Latin America primarily through the production of images of afro-decendants and works by artists of African descent.  We will offer a critical and historical analysis of  the racialized biases of the existing canon, as well as the need for new research strategies, new methods, and new sources. We also study the contributions of artists and intellectuals who claim connections to Afro-Diasporic cultural practices or participate in broader debates about race and inclusion in Latin American societies.  By combining approaches centered on authorship and on thematic influences and representations, the seminar explores different conceptualizations of Afro-Latin American Art and highlights the possibilities of this field within the art history of Latin America. We cover different geographic areas, different socio-cultural groups as well as different political conditions.  We will address various media, including painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, photography, video, and installation and study how this artistic production has evolved over time. The course follows a rough chronological order that becomes more media specific as we enter the end of the 19th-century and finishing in the 21st. For this seminar, a social historian of slavery and race and an art historian of colonial Latin America join forces to explore the contours of this field from multidisciplinary perspectives. Undergraduate students are welcome to join the seminar, previous consultation with the instructors.

AFRAMER 189X  Medicine, Science, and Empire

Comaroff, Jean - This class examines the changing place of medicine in the long history of modernity. Focusing on key moments   the birth of the clinic, the colonial encounter, the consolidation of medicine as profession, the age of genomics and biocapital, and the empire of global health it explores the distinctive role of medical knowledge and practice in the making of modernist persons, identities, economies, and political vocabularies. Readings are drawn from anthropology and the wider social sciences, with cases from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. The course is a mix of lecture and discussion.

AFRAMER 192X  Religion and Society in Nigeria

Olupona, Jacob - 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 193Y  Landscape Fieldwork:  People, Politics, Practices (with FAS)

Doherty, Gareth - Landscape fieldwork offers the means to understand the complexities of landscapes. Through a people-centered approach, this lecture course explores landscape architecture’s ethical and political power to shape the world. A central premise of the course is that experiential knowledge—gained from the embodied engagement of landscape fieldwork—can help to revise how we understand and use western canons of landscape knowledge and offer new possibilities for the design imagination.  The course is structured in five parts, each of which consists of 3–4 class sessions focused on a particular site, including smaller-scale public spaces, border landscapes, sacred groves, archipelagos, and regions. We will concentrate in the postcolonial and Islamic worlds—the Arabian Peninsula, the Caribbean, Brazil and West Africa, and Western Europe. We will study diverse literatures, ethnographies, and interviews, using and critiquing established landscape ethnographic methods. In doing so, we apply the descriptive, participatory, and reflective aspects of ethnography to design, and the imaginative, projective, and prescriptive capacities of design to ethnography. By cultivating this design/ethnographic ground, this course opens up new possibilities for understanding the present and imaging the future.  This course provides students with training in ethnographic fieldwork methods that can be applied in other academic and professional projects. On completion of the course, students will be equipped to conduct their own landscape fieldwork projects, either alone or collectively. During the semester, students will:

     Apply landscape fieldwork as a tool for knowledge-building

     Develop theoretical positions arising from fieldwork

     Identify non-written forms of note taking

     Experiment with visualizing social phenomena and the lived experiences of spaces

     Produce and analyze collective ethnographic data

     Imagine and recommend design and policy propositions informed by fieldwork

Grades are based on participation, completion of assignments, a remote fieldwork project, and a final design proposal.  There are no prerequisites. Undergraduates as well as masters and doctoral students are welcome to enroll.  The course is cross-listed between the Department of Landscape Architecture, the Department of Anthropology, and the Department of African and African American Studies. Where possible, the synergy between fields will be cultivated to maximize exchange between them.

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

Comaroff, Jean - The theme of the course explores Africa’s changing place in the world and the new forms of economy, law, society and culture that have arisen there; this in relation to cutting-edge research presented in the public sessions of the African Studies Workshop. We also examine the claim that the African present foreshadows processes beginning to unfold elsewhere across the globe; that it is a productive source of theory and insight about current global conditions.  The course consists of two components: (i) an under/graduate student seminar, held every Monday at 12.00 -- 1.20, at which the topic of the paper to be presented later in the day at the public workshop is contextualized and discussed in depth; (ii) a public session, the African Studies Workshop, Monday 6.00 – 7.30, at which a speaker from outside the university will present a pre-circulated paper to an audience composed of students, faculty, and Africanists from across campus and from other institutions in Boston or elsewhere.

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  Research


AFRAMER 398  Reading and Research


AFRAMER 399  Dissertations