This course provides an empirical foundation and conceptual framework for the academic study of Africa and its peoples. The course also aims to introduce students to a critical understanding of ethnographic writing on Africa.
In addition to examining the classical ethnographic work of the early anthropologists working with an African context, the module will look at more contemporary qualitative fieldwork to shed an anthropological light on the social and political challenges facing the diverse peoples of Africa today.
The module thus introduces students to the study and appreciation of African culture(s). It emphasizes the diversity, complexity and dynamism of cultures across the continent, and challenges easy – and essentially racist notions of a homogeneous African cultural world. We have all seen the painted tribesmen and the drums, stereotypical images of the starving children, the gruesome guerrilla war footage. Equally problematic however, is the overly romantic view of an Africa that was unfailingly just, communistic and peaceful before the onset of so called modernization. This module will help students shed simplifications and distortions, while beginning to equip you with the knowledge and skills you will require in order to appreciate and critically discuss aspects of African culture.