Cultures of Africa

ANTH 323/PAS 383 – Cultures of Africa

Africa is large continent, with diverse regions, societies, histories, and cultures. This course will provide an introduction to the history and ethnography of colonial and postcolonial societies in Sub-Saharan Africa. It highlights change and resistance to change since the 1885 Berlin Conference where European nations divided Africa for colonization. In this course, we will come to understand the historical and cultural conditions underpinning current predicaments facing African societies, as well as the fact that tragedy is only one facet of African lives and experiences.

Class time will consist primarily of discussion and team-based learning activities with occasional lectures, films, or guest speakers. Lectures will be devoted to the presentation of new material that is not covered in the reading and to exploration of issues raised in the reading.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to

  1. recognize and name all of the countries of Africa and their capital cities
  2. explain and apply fundamental concepts such as Africa, culture, cultural change, resistance, colonialism, and postcolonial
  3. describe the major cultural patterns, historical background, and trends of change on the African continent from a holistic perspective
  4. analyze the implications and consequences of global forces (e.g., mercantilism, the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism, postcolonialism and globalization) that have shaped and continue to shape African societies

 Required Texts:

Abouet, Marguerite and Clément Oubrerie. (2008). Aya. Translated by Helge Dascher. Montréal: Drawn & Quarterly. ISBN-10: 1894937902

Goheen, Miriam. (1996). Men Own the Fields, Women Own the Crops: Gender and Power in the Cameroon Grassfields. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Gordon, April A. and Gordon, Donald L. (2007). Understanding Contemporary Africa (4th edition). Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers

Thornton, Robert J. (2008). Unimagined Community: Sex, Networks, and AIDS in Uganda and South Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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