Institute of African Studies - Columbia University

Courses

African Language Courses

Spring 2018: ELEMENTARY SWAHILI II

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
25926
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MTWR 9:10am-10:00am
Instructor: 
Abdul Nanji

Essentials of grammar, basic vocabulary, practice in speaking and reading Swahili the most widely used indigenous language of East Africa. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Spring 2018: ELEMENTARY WOLOF II

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
67421
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MTWR 12:10pm-1:00pm
Instructor: 
Mariame S Sy

Introduction to the basic grammatical structures of Wolof, a major language of West Africa spoken in Senegal and Gambia. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Spring 2018: ELEMENTARY ZULU II

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
10732
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MTWR 11:35am-12:25pm

Prerequisites: ZULU W1201-W1202 or the instructor's permission. Introduces students to the basic structures of Zulu, a Bantu language spoken in South Africa, especially in the Zululand area of KwaZulu/Natal province.

Spring 2018: INTERMEDIATE WOLOF II

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
16179
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MW 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: 
Mariame S Sy

Prerequisites: WLOF W1101-W1102 or the instructor's permission. Further develops a student's knowledge of Wolof, a major language of West Africa spoken primarily in Senegal and Gambia. No P/D/F or R credit is allowed for this class.

Spring 2018: Intermediate Yoruba II

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
65140
Points: 
4
Location: 
Cornell University (Medical Campus)
Day/Time: 
MTWR 9:05am-9:55am
Instructor: 
TBA

Prerequisites: YORU W1101-W1102 or the instructor's permission. In this course, learners will continue practicing all four language skills through every day dialogues, writing letters, and describing basic situations. In addition, they will be introduced to Yoruba literature and learn how to read and comprehend basic Yoruba texts, such as newspaper articles. Finally, they will be introduced to current affairs as well as social, artistic and, cultural events and issues in Nigeria. The class uses a highly interactive classroom style, supplemented by extensive use of video – both prepared and student-produced – and other computer-assisted tools. Please note this course is offered by videoconferencing from Cornell as part of the Shared Course Initiative.


Art History

Spring 2018: ARTS OF AFRICA

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
68058
Points: 
3
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MW 11:40am-12:55pm

Introduction to the arts of Africa, including masquerading, figural sculpture, reliquaries, power objects, textiles, painting, photography, and architecture. The course will establish a historical framework for study, but will also address how various African societies have responded to the process of modernity.

Spring 2018: ARTS OF AFRICAN KINGDOMS

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
61279
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
T 12:10pm-2:00pm

This course will consider five of the major kingdoms from across the continent: Benin, Kongo, Ethiopia, the Cameroon Grassfields kingdoms, and the Akan states. Two-week units on each kingdom will present thematic topics that will allow students to evaluate the relationship between the flourishing of artistic forms and the development of monarchies and hierarchical systems of rulership. They will be able to chart the development of complex iconographical systems in use from ancient to contemporary times, considering the interaction between kingdoms within Africa and throughout the globe. Challenging readings will spur debates about the nature of power, tradition, memory, and museums as they relate to the arts of each of these unique kingdoms.


Columbia College

Spring 2018: History of African Cities

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
76012
Points: 
3
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
T 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: 
Mamadou Diouf

This seminar offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the history of African cities. It cuts across disciplinary boundaries of history, geography, anthropology, political and cultural sociology, literature and cultural studies, to explore the vaious trajectories of urbanization on the continent.


Contemporary Civilization and Literature Humanities

Spring 2018: AFRICAN CIVILIZATION

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
74646
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MW 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: 
Wendell H Marsh

This course provides a general introduction to some of the key intellectual debates in Africa by Africans through primary sources, including scholarly works, political tracts, fiction, art, and film. Beginning with an exploration of African notions of spiritual and philosophical uniqueness and ending with contemporary debates on the meaning and historical viability of an African Renaissance, this course explores the meanings of ‘Africa' and ‘being African.' Field(s): AFR*. NO FIRST YEAR STUDENTS PERMITTED.


Core Curriculum (Global Core)

Spring 2018: CONSERV OF AFRICAN LANDSCAPES

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
12215
Points: 
4
Instructor: 
Dustin Rubenstein

Prerequisites: EEEB W2001 and EEEB W2002 Environmental Biology I and II, or the instructor's permission. Only six percent of Africa's land is protected, and these areas are rarely large enough to sustain wildlife populations. Mostly, wildlife must share land with people who also face survival challenges. This course will explore how wildlife and people interact in Kenya, where new approaches to conservation are being developed and implemented. Lectures will cover the ecology of tropical grasslands and first principles underlying conservation and management of these landscapes. Field trips and projects will examine the dynamics between human actions and biodiversity conservation. This course is part of the study abroad program in Kenya on Tropical Biology and Sustainability and cannot be taken separately n campus.


Dance

Spring 2018: AFRICAN DANCE I

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
02678
Points: 
0-1
Location: 
STU Marcellus Hartley Dodge Physical Fitness Center
Day/Time: 
TR 9:30am-10:30am
Instructor: 
Maguette Camara

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Concentrates on the dances of West Africa, including Senegal, Mali, and Guinea, and a variety of dances performed at various functions and ceremonies. Explanation of the origin and meaning of each dance will be an integral part of the material presented.

Spring 2018: AFRICAN DANCE I

Section: 
002
Call Number: 
02154
Points: 
0-1
Location: 
11 Barnard Hall
Day/Time: 
TR 11:40am-12:55pm
Instructor: 
Maguette Camara

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Concentrates on the dances of West Africa, including Senegal, Mali, and Guinea, and a variety of dances performed at various functions and ceremonies. Explanation of the origin and meaning of each dance will be an integral part of the material presented.


English and Comparative Literature

Spring 2018: BRITISH LITERATURE 1950-PRES

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
25722
Points: 
3
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
TR 2:40pm-3:55pm
Instructor: 
Matthew Hart

This course examining post-war British literature, film and music builds a narrative of post-war Britain by looking at the tensions, battles and struggles between white Britons and immigrants of color from the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia. Black British cultural production (denoting work by peoples of South Asian as well as African and Caribbean origin) both challenged traditional conceptions of the nation and offered creative and transformative responses to a mounting atmosphere of racism and xenophobia. The materials I have assembled for class – novels, music, films – depict not only the immigrant experience but also the bleakness of postwar Britain and the subcultural movements among both Black and white youth that opposed and challenged the rigid class system, the monarchy, patriarchal family structures and post-imperial illusions of grandeur.


French Courses

Spring 2018: INTRO-FRANCOPHONE STUDIES II

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
13552
Points: 
3
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MW 11:40am-12:55pm
Instructor: 
Anais Maurer

Prerequisites: FREN UN3405 Advanced Grammar and Composition or an AP score of 5 or the director of undergraduate studies' permission. Universalism vs. exceptionalism, tradition vs. modernity, integration and exclusion, racial, gender, regional, and national identities are considered in this introduction to the contemporary French-speaking world in Europe, the Americas, and Africa. Authors include: Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sedar Senghor, Frantz Fanon, Maryse Condé.

Spring 2018: MAGHREB FRANCOPHONE LIT.&CIN

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
74758
Points: 
3
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
W 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: 
Madeleine Dobie

In this course we explore recent literature and film from North Africa, asking how the region's political trajectories have intersected with developments in the sphere of the arts. Our examination begins in the 1990s with the violent conflict of Algeria's Black Decade, and continues through the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 and its complex aftermath. We consider how cultural productions have participated in political opposition as well as their role as custodians of repressed memory. Over the last quarter century, new media, genres and aesthetic currents have emerged in the region, and new writers and film-makers have won recognition. We examine some of the most interesting examples of this Maghrebi new wave. The course is divided into units examining questions such as gender and sexual politics, the changing realities of migration and transnationalism, new media, and developments in the production and circulation of literature and film. The Course is taught in English. Readings are in French and English and students may write in either language, though French Department students should write in French. Each member of the seminar will undertake a research project focusing on a particular artist or work, which s/he will introduce in a multimedia class presentation and write up as a final paper.

Spring 2018: The Maghreb in Transition: Culture and Society in North Africa Since 1990

Call Number: 
GR8626
Day/Time: 
W 2:10pm-4pm
Instructor: 
Madeleine Dobie

In this course, we explore cultural production in the contemporary Maghreb. We consider how important dimensions of social and political life are explored in literature and film as well as the role of these and other media in shaping social and political dynamics. We focus on Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, though we also situate these nations in broader regional and global contexts. As former French colonies, these three nations share a multilingual cultural environment in which French coexists with Arabic. Though our sources are primarily in French, we examine material produced in both languages with options to read/watch in translation. Most of the course materials are also available in English translation.

The course begins in roughly 1990, a time of disenchantment when the political leadership brought to power at Independence was replaced or at least challenged. We explore the dynamics of Algeria’s ‘Black Decade’, Morocco’s emergence from the ‘Years of lead’ and, with an eye to more recent developments, Tunisia’s ‘Arab spring’ as well as less punctual and less highly mediatized currents of social and economic life. Our primary focus is on the varied ways in which the arts and cultural media have responded and contributed to change while also revisiting the past and reframing national narratives. The course is interdisciplinary, combining historical, sociological and anthropological approaches with close reading of texts and films.

The syllabus is organized both historically and thematically. We explore questions including aesthetic responses to violence and the theorization of trauma and memory; the changing geography and sociology of migration and the changing landscape of media and publication. Many of our sources explore the meaning of ‘modernity’, often in conjunction with explorations of subjectivity and spirituality, gender and sexuality.


History Courses

Spring 2018: GENDER, SEXUALITY, POWER, AFRICA

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
07888
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
T 6:10pm-8:00pm
Instructor: 
Abosede A George

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 15. Preregistration required. This course deals with the scholarship on gender and sexuality in African history. The central themes of the course will be changes and continuities in gender performance and the politics of gender and sexual difference within African societies, the social, political, and economic processes that have influenced gender and sexual identities, and the connections between gender, sexuality, inequality, and activism at local, national, continental, and global scales.

Spring 2018: HIST ENV. & HEALTH S. ASIA & BEYOND

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
76375
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
T 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: 
Kavita Sivaramakrishnan

This course offers an understanding of the interdisciplinary field of environmental, health and population history and will discuss historical and policy debates with a cross cutting, comparative relevance: such as the making and subjugation of colonized peoples and natural and disease landscapes under British colonial rule; modernizing states and their interest in development and knowledge and technology building, the movement and migration of populations, and changing place of public health and healing in south Asia. The key aim of the course will be to introduce students to reading and analyzing a range of historical scholarship, and interdisciplinary research on environment, health, medicine and populations in South Asia and to introduce them to an exploration of primary sources for research; and also to probe the challenges posed by archives and sources in these fields. Some of the overarching questions that shape this course are as follows: How have environmental pasts and medical histories been interpreted, debated and what is their contemporary resonance? What have been the encounters (political, intellectual, legal, social and cultural) between the environment, its changing landscapes and state? How have citizens, indigenous communities, and vernacular healers mediated and shaped these encounters and inserted their claims for sustainability, subsistence or survival? How have these changing landscapes shaped norms about bodies, care and beliefs? The course focuses on South Asia but also urges students to think and make linkages beyond regional geographies in examining interconnected ideas and practices in histories of the environment, medicine and health. Topics will therefore include (and students are invited to add to these perspectives and suggest additional discussion themes): colonial and globalized circuits of medical knowledge, with comparative case studies from Africa and East Asia; and the travel and translation of environmental ideas and of medical practices through growing global networks.

Spring 2018: HISTORIES OF POVERTY IN AFRICA

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
13746
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
R 10:10am-12:00pm
Instructor: 
Rhiannon Stephens

In this course we will explore in a critical manner the concept of poverty in Africa. The emphasis is on historicizing categories such as poverty and wealth, debt and charity and on the ways in which people in Africa have understood such categories. As such the course takes a longue durée approach spanning over a millennium of history, ending with contemporary understandings of poverty.

Spring 2018: INTRO AFRICAN HIST:1700-PRESNT

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
07601
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MW 11:40am-12:55pm
Instructor: 
Abosede A George

Corequisites: Students who take this course may also take Introduction to Africa Studies: Africa Past, Present, and Future. Survey of African history from the 18th century to the contemporary period. We will explore six major themes in African History: Africa and the Making of the Atlantic World, Colonialism in Africa, the 1940s, Nationalism and Independence Movements, Post-Colonialism in Africa, and Issues in the Making of Contemporary Africa.

Spring 2018: NEOLIBERAL AFRICA

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
76600
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
M 4:10pm-6:00pm
Instructor: 
Gregory Mann

This course is designed as a seminar on a historiography that does not yet exist. It asks what a history of contemporary or ‘neo-liberal’ Africa would look like. The ambition of the seminar is to consider how historians might engage with and profit from the work of anthropologists working on the frontier between African states and the institutions of global civil society. It does so by decentering the state from the macro-narrative of the continent’s recent history. It also strives to situate the African present in relation to broader historical currents at work across the globe in the contemporary period.


International Affairs

Spring 2018: AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
86096
Points: 
3
Location: 
501A International Affairs Building
Day/Time: 
R 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: 
Akbar Noman

This course focuses on economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa from a political economy perspective. It is divided into three sections. The first section examines the broad economic trends, policies and strategies of the past 50 years. The Washington Consensus and the "lost decades" are examined in some detail. The focus of this part is on economic growth and structural change, notably the controversies around economic policies and institutions. In the second section the course turns to socioeconomic dimensions and aspects of development including poverty, inequality, employment, health, education, and gender. The final section concludes with an examination of the implications of climate change, debates around foreign aid and an overview of what we have learned. Some readings are to be finalized.

Spring 2018: HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN THE EASTERN DRC

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
83096
Points: 
1
Location: 
324 International Affairs Building
Day/Time: 
F 1:00pm-5:00pm | S 10:00am-2:00pm
Instructor: 
Dennis Dijkzeul

Over the past decades, perhaps no area of the world has seen such violent transformations and complex conflicts as Africa's Great Lakes Region. This 1-credit course focuses on the conflicts and humanitarian assistance in two Eastern Congolese provinces, Kivu Sud and Kivu Nord. Extrapolations based on IRC studies estimate an excess mortality in Eastern DR Congo of over 4 million people out of a total population of about 20 million over the last twenty years. The neighboring countries of DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda all play a role in this conflict. Moreover, they have also endured their own forms of traumatic upheaval and are still searching for a form of stability. This course asks why these conflicts endured for so long? What are the root causes? What happens when a state bureaucracy breaks down? What happens to the health care and educational systems? Can solutions be found? What is the role of the humanitarian organizations vis-à-vis the local population, civil society, and the local administration?

Spring 2018: POLITICAL ECON OF DEV IN MID EAST & N AF

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
67191
Points: 
3
Location: 
402B International Affairs Building
Day/Time: 
W 11:00am-12:50pm
Instructor: 
Ishac Diwan

The course aims to provide graduate students with an introduction to the key debates in social science research that can guide policy-making in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. More than five years after the spark of the Arab uprisings, the MENA region faces unprecedented challenges. The lack of progress in political and economic governance, conflicts, and unresolved development challenges underlie slow economic growth, high unemployment – especially among youth and women – and a system of crony capitalism that is increasingly narrower and less performing. This course aims to provide graduate students with a good understanding of the development challenges of the region and its complex political economy, with the aim of supporting policy-making at all levels – national, local, and among civil society groups, and along several socio-economic domains.


Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Spring 2018: CINEMA&COLONIALISM IN SOUTH ASIA

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
62596
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
T 4:10pm-6:00pm
Instructor: 
Debashree Mukherjee

What is the relation between cinema and colonialism? This seminar approaches cinema as a dynamic historical agent that aided, negotiated, refracted, and contested the mechanisms and meanings of colonialism in South Asia. We will study cinema as technology, as industry, and as cultural form, paying attention to questions of film finance, on-screen representation, production infrastructures, circuits of distribution, and sites of exhibition. We will watch films made by British ethnographers, Indian expats, Hollywood orientalists, and South Asian nationalists to
study how film served as a key weapon of imperial propaganda as well as anticolonial resistance. From orientalist films that constructed the colony as exotic and dangerous, to the spatial uses of Indian films to reinforce race inequalities in the diaspora (eg. East Africa), cinema is deeply imbricated with colonial strategies of racial, gendered, and caste-based othering. This is a history of cinema as a history of empire; where cinema is not just a text to be read but a cultural, industrial, and social network of power relations.

Spring 2018: Introduction to African Philosophy

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
62356
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
T 4:10pm-6:00pm
Instructor: 
Kai Kresse

In seminar discussions, we will be covering key readings in African Philosophy, following how this field of research and academic debate has emerged, progressed and become more sub­differentiated in the 20th and early 21 st century. While the main task set here is to understand the essential readings of the debate about African philosophy as it has been led by academic African philosophers, in the second part of the semester, we will pick up in an interdisciplinary manner on open questions and fields for further research that have been identified. For instance, in addressing questions of how to approach (document, qualify, understand) traditions of oral and written philosophical discourse as part of long-standing regional (and trans-regional) intellectual histories, expressed in African languages, we involve knowledge in linguistics, history, anthropology and religion.

Spring 2018: THE NOVEL IN AFRICA

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
61767
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MW 2:40pm-3:55pm
Instructor: 
Jennifer Wenzel

The main task of this course will be to read novels by African writers. But "the novel in Africa" also involves connections between the literary genre of the novel and the historical processes of colonialism, decolonization, and globalization in Africa. One important question we'll consider is how African novels depict those historical experiences in their themes and plots—we'll read novels that are "about" colonialism, etc. A more complex question is how these historical processes relate to the emergence of the novel as an important genre for African writers. Edward Said went so far as to say that without imperialism, there would be no European novel as we know it. How can we understand the novel in Africa (whether read or written) as a product of the colonial encounter? How did it shape the process of decolonization? What contribution to history, whether literary or political, does the novel in Africa make? We'll undertake a historical survey of African novels from the 1930s to the present, with attention to various subgenres (village novel, war novel, urbanization novel, novel of postcolonial disillusion, Bildungsroman). We'll attend to how African novelists blend literate and oral storytelling traditions, how they address their work to local and global audiences, and how they use scenes of characters reading novels (whether African or European) in order to position their writing within national, continental, and world literary space.

Spring 2018: The Novel in Africa

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
61767
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
MW 2:40pm-3:55pm
Instructor: 
Jennifer Wenzel

The main task of this course will be to read novels by African writers. But "the novel in Africa" also involves connections between the literary genre of the novel and the historical processes of colonialism, decolonization, and globalization in Africa. One important question we'll consider is how African novels depict those historical experiences in their themes and plots—we'll read novels that are "about" colonialism, etc. A more complex question is how these historical processes relate to the emergence of the novel as an important genre for African writers. Edward Said went so far as to say that without imperialism, there would be no European novel as we know it. How can we understand the novel in Africa (whether read or written) as a product of the colonial encounter? How did it shape the process of decolonization? What contribution to history, whether literary or political, does the novel in Africa make? We'll undertake a historical survey of African novels from the 1930s to the present, with attention to various subgenres (village novel, war novel, urbanization novel, novel of postcolonial disillusion, Bildungsroman). We'll attend to how African novelists blend literate and oral storytelling traditions, how they address their work to local and global audiences, and how they use scenes of characters reading novels (whether African or European) in order to position their writing within national, continental, and world literary space.

Spring 2018: THEORY AND METHODS I

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
63370
Points: 
4
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
W 12:10pm-2:00pm
Instructor: 
Timothy Mitchell

This course will be the first part of a two part introduction to theoretical approaches to modern social science and cultural studies in Asian and African contexts. The first course will focus primarily on methodological and theoretical problems in the fields broadly described as historical social sciences - which study historical trends, and political, economic and social institutions and processes. The course will start with discussions regarding the origins of the modern social sciences and the disputes about the nature of social science knowledge. In the next section it will focus on definitions and debates about the concept of modernity. It will go on to analyses of some fundamental concepts used in modern social and historical analyses: concepts of social action, political concepts like state, power, hegemony, democracy, nationalism; economic concepts like the economy, labor, market, capitalism, and related concepts of secularity/secularism, representation, and identity. The teaching will be primarily through close reading of set texts, followed by a discussion. A primary concern of the course will be to think about problems specific to the societies studied by scholars of Asia and Africa: how to use a conceptual language originally stemming from reflection on European modernity in thinking about societies which have quite different historical and cultural characteristics.


Other Departments

Spring 2018: LUSOPHONE AFR/AFRO-BRAZ CULTRS

Section: 
001
Call Number: 
18167
Points: 
3
Location: 
TBA
Day/Time: 
TR 4:10pm-5:25pm
Instructor: 
Joao Nemi Neto

This course focuses on Lusophone African and African Brazilian cultures and the relations, continuities, ruptures and influences between them. Brazil is the result of the miscegenation of Ameridians, African and Europeans, and this means that is also a cultural mélange of these groups. The African cultural contribution to Brazilian culture and grand-narrative is the primary focus of this course, however, to understand Brazil one needs to understand the cultural diversity found in Lusophone Africa, with which Brazil has had a long relationship. The readings for this course include texts from different disciplines and genres. We will study texts, movies and other forms of visual arts from the following authors: José Eduardo Agualusa, Pepetela, Mia Couto, Jorge Amado, Achille, Mbembe, Hilton Costa, Jocélio Teles dos Santos, Livio Sansone, José Luis Cabaço, Benedita da Silva and Solano Trindade.


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