African Studies (AFRS)

AFRS 1101. Introduction to African Studies. 4 Hours.

Uses a multidisciplinary approach to offer an introduction and overview of the geographical, demographic, socioeconomic, and political conditions of the African continent, emphasizing sub-Saharan Africa. Africa, “the cradle of humankind,” is a vast, complex continent of diverse peoples that has fascinated observers and evoked multiple images. Topical areas of interest range from ethnic relations, politics, colonial experience, and international relations to religion, environment, health, economic development, gender, culture, and literature. Course materials aim to provide contemporary African perspectives and analyses that offer students an opportunity to acquire and interpret broad knowledge about the continent.

AFRS 1128. The African Experience through Music. 4 Hours.

Surveys various African musical traditions with respect to their historical, social, and cultural heritage. Examines traditional and contemporary African music, instruments, and performance traditions. Prereq. Not open to students who have taken MUSC 1128.

AFRS 1180. African History. 4 Hours.

Explores the history of the African continent from 1000 C.E. to the present era. Topics include medieval kingdoms (Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Zimbabwe, the city-states of East Africa, and the Kongo kingdom); slave trades (Indian Ocean, trans-Saharan, and transatlantic); the partition of Africa and European colonization; and the decolonization process. Due consideration is given to the interactions of African peoples with the rest of the world, particularly the relations between Africa and Europe after 1500 C.E.

AFRS 1185. Gender in the African Diaspora. 4 Hours.

Studies variations in gender roles throughout the African Diaspora, from precolonial Africa to the modern United States. Areas of the African Diaspora include Africa, the West Indies, Latin America, Europe, and the Islamic world. Issues include sexuality, labor, reproduction, and social constructions of gender. Cross-listed with INTL 1185 and WMNS 1185.

AFRS 1270. Introduction to Global Health. 4 Hours.

Introduces global health in the context of an interdependent and globalized world focusing on four main areas of analysis: infrastructure of global health; diseases; populations; and terms, concepts, and theories. While the focus is on lower-income countries, the course examines issues in a broader global context, underscoring the interconnections between global health disparities and global health policy response. Applies case studies describing interventions to improve healthcare in resource-poor settings in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere to help illuminate the actors, diseases, populations, and principles and frameworks for the design of effective global health interventions. Cross-listed with PHTH 1270.

AFRS 1990. Elective. 1-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions.

AFRS 2307. Africa Today. 4 Hours.

Provides a basic survey of the latest innovations and cultural and socioeconomic trends of 21st century Africa. Examining the political transformations of 54 nations, the course focuses on a culturally and ethnically diverse continent of five regions, linguistic and religious diversity, and tribal societies reflecting an ancient triple heritage—Indigenous, Arab, and European. Presents complex and critical perspectives on topics including governance and civil strife, gender empowerment, the impact of globalization, trade and investment developments, public health challenges, the visual and performing arts, identity formation among a rising youth demographic to pervasive mobile technology, food security, and the new “African” passport. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 2348. Arts and Culture of Africa. 4 Hours.

Presents a multidisciplinary approach to the study of art and culture of an African nation taught in a specified African country. Students have the opportunity to interact with master artisans in the areas of music, art, dance, literature, and film. Offers students the opportunity to gain a more global understanding of the role of art and culture on the development of African countries.

AFRS 2390. Africa and the World in Early Times. 4 Hours.

Addresses the place of Africa in the world, from human evolution to the establishment of large-scale iron-making societies. Examines debates on the evolution of man in Africa and migrations to other regions. Traces the formation and spread of language groups, the rise of agriculture, formation of family and political structures, and patterns of trade up to 1000 C.E. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 2391. Modern African Civilization. 4 Hours.

Explores African history and culture from the early 1500s to the present era. Emphasizes the relationship between Europe and Africa, the circumstances surrounding the imperialist partition of Africa, and the decolonization process. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 2392. African Diaspora. 4 Hours.

Explores the creation and transformation of the African Diaspora-connections among communities of African descent in Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Centers on the years from 1500 to the present and emphasizes connections among themes of migration, identity, and popular culture. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 2414. Global Revolution. 4 Hours.

Introduces the tensions that produce conflict throughout the world and the African Diaspora and explores how social justice emerges in societies worldwide. Global unrest, street protests, and citizen activism are happening everywhere as broad political struggles that express civil discontent about social and economic inequalities and lead to crisis, conflict, revolution, and change. Globalization has affected the dynamics of power, the interdependence of nations, struggling democracies, global citizenship, and how civil society and community organizing are challenging political repression and corruption and improving the quality of life for all. Covers the Arab Spring in Africa and the Middle East, Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together campaigns, international debates on climate change and immigration reform, and the digital age and open courseware.

AFRS 2465. The Scope and Dynamics of Conflicts in Africa. 4 Hours.

Surveys the faces, character, and manifestations of violent and nonviolent conflicts across the landscape of continental Africa. Addresses the causes/sources of conflict, types of conflicts and their impact on society, and the conflict resolution mechanisms. The contemporary history of the continent of Africa is defined most markedly by conflict that has impacted heavily on the continent’s diverse multicultural societies, polities, and economies. The structure of conflicts in the continent is complex and, indeed, exhibits diverse faces; conflicts differ in their roots, causes, and explanations, and between the different regions and population groups in the south, east, central, west, and north. The course critically analyzes this broad range of aspects with specific focus on sub-Saharan Africa using country- and case-based analyses and critical thinking.

AFRS 2900. Swahili, Culture, and Politics in Kenya. 4 Hours.

Introduces and immerses students in Kenyan African culture, the Swahili language and politics, and studies their impact on the everyday life of the local population. Offers students an opportunity to learn Swahili, which is the national language of Kenya; its use in a context of varied indigenous languages; and cultural dynamics. Exposes students to the major issues that characterize everyday life in rural and urban settings through visits to and stays in the rural areas and transect walks in villages and urban communities. Students visit projects run by community-based organizations, observing the everyday life of ordinary Kenyans and attending formal and informal classes and settings on Swahili language, culture, and the local politics.

AFRS 3310. Applied Research in the African Diaspora. 4 Hours.

Introduces students to three major types of evidence used in basic and applied research in Africa and its worldwide Diaspora: written documentation; orally gathered information; and visual materials, artifacts, and material culture. Covers methods of data gathering such as archival research, participant observation, interviews, and archaeological excavation. Discusses various qualitative and quantitative techniques of verifying, analyzing, interpreting, and reporting or displaying the research findings. Emphasis is on selecting types of evidence and techniques of analysis appropriate to the topics selected. In addition to reading examples of research on Africa, and on the African Diaspora in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, students usually develop their own research projects. Prereq. (a) ENGW 1111, ENGW 1102, ENGL 1111, or ENGL 1102 and (b) junior or senior standing.

AFRS 3410. Religion and Spirituality in the African Diaspora. 4 Hours.

Examines religious thought and rituals and the Diaspora in a comparative context. Topics include traditional religions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism in Africa, and the Diaspora. Emphasizes the transformation of religions practiced in Africa when African captives were forced into the three slave trades affecting the continent of Africa: trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean, and transatlantic. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 3424. Epidemiology of Pandemic Diseases and Health Disparities in the African Diaspora. 4 Hours.

Examines the epidemiology and determinants of diseases and the public health practice among continental African peoples and African-derived populations in the Americas and elsewhere in the African Diaspora. Emphasizes such epidemic diseases as malaria, yellow fever, tuberculosis, smallpox, the current AIDS pandemic, obesity, and cancer. The course also aims to critically address the breadth of factors behind these pandemics, such as socioeconomic, political, health system, behavioral, and genetic. A cross-cutting theme throughout the course is the entrenched health disparities in society. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 3428. African Languages. 4 Hours.

Seeks to prepare students for serious theoretical and practical study of the West African language and literature known as Kwa, the largest language subgroup in the Niger-Congo family. Explores the classification of African languages, the application of basic linguistics, and the history of these languages in Africa and the Western hemisphere, all leading to an introduction to spoken Yoruba and Igbo. Prereq. LING 1150 or ENGL 1150; sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 3460. Contemporary Government and Politics in Africa. 4 Hours.

Explores contemporary politics in African nations south of the Sahara. Studies South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia, among others. Examines apartheid, colonialism, Afro-Marxism, chieftaincy, development, and Pan-Africanism. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 3464. Natural Resources and Sustainable Development. 4 Hours.

Examines the social dimensions of resource extraction. Focusing mainly on developing nations, studies global issues, including developments in industrial nations, to assess their impact on resource extraction and living and working conditions in resource-rich regions. Uses case studies of key countries producing oil/gas, minerals, and forest/agricultural commodities to illustrate the past/current causes of resource mismanagement; their social consequences; and how public policies, legislation, and financial and human resource management with industrialization can be used to avert or reduce the adverse effects of resource extraction, especially in poor countries. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above or permission of instructor.

AFRS 3467. Diaspora in Motion: Contemporary African and Caribbean Migration. 4 Hours.

Offers an introduction to the contemporary international migration of African and Caribbean people to North American and European countries. Emphasizes a sociological understanding of contemporary international migration, while drawing knowledge from multiple disciplines that influence the study of international migration. Focuses on these migrants’ social position as Black, foreign-born persons in contemporary Western societies. Introduces key topics, debates, categories, concepts, and theories of international migration and immigrant assimilation. Offers students an opportunity to read empirical research on Black African and Caribbean migrants in the United States, Canada, England, and France and to research African and Caribbean immigrants in Boston. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 3470. Identity and Nationalism in Africa. 4 Hours.

Studies how centuries of imperialism, the struggle for national unity, and the continuing problems of racism and rivalry between factions have affected the present identities and nationalist movements in Africa. Explores problems peculiar to Africa and to any group of nations struggling against colonial ideas. Tribalism and the effects of European colonial partition on African identity are discussed. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 3645. National Model African Union. 4 Hours.

Offers students the opportunity to participate in teams and conduct research on political issues in assigned nations and then represent those nations in a model African Union role-playing exercise in Washington, D.C. Focuses on intra-African relations and the roles of Africans in international affairs, emphasizing the new African Union (AU) that replaced the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Examines the Pan-Africanist origins, challenges, and achievements of the African Union. Prereq. Sophomore standing or above.

AFRS 4500. Arts of the African Diaspora. 4 Hours.

Traces the historical development of the art forms and production practices of the African Diaspora, from traditional to contemporary styles in Africa, the Americas, and elsewhere in the African Diaspora. Emphasizes the study of art objects, the historical and social context in which aesthetic issues are shaped, and the impact of religion and external forces on creativity. Uses lectures, critiques, discussions, fieldwork, and hands-on interaction with art objects. Prereq. Junior or senior standing.

AFRS 4585. Current Issues in the African Diaspora. 4 Hours.

Introduces students to present-day issues and problems that confront various segments of the worldwide African Diaspora. Includes the social, political, and economic aspects of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora. Students are asked to assess the validity of several social theories in relation to the African Diaspora. Prereq. Junior or senior standing.

AFRS 4690. Topics in African History. 4 Hours.

Covers special topics in African history. Prereq. Junior or senior standing.

AFRS 4939. Community Health, Culture, and Development in Kenya. 4 Hours.

Introduces the community health and development arena in Kenya. Community development has been presented as the panacea to many of Africa’s problems, including leadership, democracy, conflict, disease, and poverty. Through teaching, research, and action, the course seeks to expose and sensitize students to the global and local debate on poverty, primary healthcare, and community development. Offers students an opportunity to gain hands-on experiences in some of the major determinants and solutions to poverty and disease by interacting with community stakeholders and organizations in a variety of cultural, rural, and urban settings and through visits to, and participating in, projects run by community-based organizations.

AFRS 4990. Elective. 1-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions.

AFRS 4991. Research. 4 Hours.

Offers an opportunity to conduct research under faculty supervision.

AFRS 4992. Directed Study. 1-4 Hours.

Offers independent work under the direction of members of the department on a chosen topic. Course content depends on instructor.

AFRS 4993. Independent Study. 1-4 Hours.

Offers independent work under the direction of members of the department on a chosen topic. Course content depends on instructor.

AFRS 4994. Internship. 4 Hours.

Offers students an opportunity for internship work.

AFRS 4996. Experiential Education Directed Study. 4 Hours.

Draws upon the student’s approved experiential activity and integrates it with study in the academic major.