Armitage Hall, Room 205
Professor Cati Coe
Office: 405-407 Cooper Street, Room 203
Phone: (856) 225-6455
Office hours: Mondays, 4:30-5:30; Wednesdays, 11:30-12:30; or by appointment
This course is a broad topical survey course on the peoples and cultures of Africa south of the Sahara. This course begins by considering the effects and legacies of colonialism, but the focus is on contemporary Africa. No course can reasonably cover all the rich variety of Africa’s peoples and cultures, but this course introduces you to the diversity of the continent and the interconnectedness of politics, religion, kinship, economics, ecology, ethnicity, and history. This course retains anthropology’s traditional interest in how ordinary people experience everyday life, but looks also at the links between them and the wider contexts shaped by history, politics, and globalization. We will also explore how representations of Africa affect our understanding of what is happening on the continent. In the media and global imagination, Africa is often characterized as a backward land of failure, dependence, poverty, and violence. We will consider how African realities may differ from the contemporary stereotypes of the continent through anthropological research, documentary and fictional films, and a memoir/comic book.
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
- Summarize an argument and evidence presented in a text and analyze/critique it through writing and class participation.
- Appreciate the diversity of societies and peoples across the African continent
- Understand the key social, political, and economic issues African people face, including the global context; and
- Analyze the processes by which cultural change and continuity occur.
There are five books available at the campus bookstore and on reserve at the circulation desk of Robeson library:
- Curtis Keim. Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind. Boulder: Westview Press, 2009.
- Helen A. Regis. Fulbe Voices: Marriage, Islam and Medicine in Northern Cameroon. Boulder: Westview Press, 2003.
- Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie. Aya: Life in Yop City. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2012.
- Daniel Mains. Hope is Cut: Youth, Unemployment, and the Future in Urban Ethiopia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012.
- Stacey A. Langwick. Bodies, Politics, and African Healing: The Matter of Maladies in Tanzania. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.
There are also several readings on electronic reserve at Robeson Library.
In general, where possible, more reading will be assigned for Monday classes than for Wednesday classes, to account for the difference in preparation time available.
The Rutgers course catalog states that students are expected to spend a minimum of two hours of out-of-class coursework for each hour in the classroom. To do well in this course, you will have to meet this minimum standard. Please plan accordingly.
Schedule of Topics and Readings
PART ONE: MISPERCEPTIONS OF AFRICA AND THE GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY OF AFRICA
Wednesday, January 21
To do by Friday, January 23rd at the latest:
- Get a NetID if you don’t already so that you can access library resources online and from home: https://netid.rutgers.edu/index.htm
- Update your email address if necessary at http://search.rutgers.edu/changes.html. This is important for receiving course emails. Be sure to keep your registered email address current in order to receive important course information.
- Get a Student Photo ID (available from the Impact Booth in the Campus Center) if you don’t already have one.
- Get the books through the bookstore or other means. The books are available through the reserve desk at Robeson Library. You will need The Cultural Nature of Human Development immediately.
- Print out all the readings on reserve so that you have them for the whole semester.
- Review Rutgers’s policy on academic integrity.
Monday, January 26
Reading: Keim, Curtis. Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the African Mind. Boulder: Westview Press, 2009. Chapters 1-4, pp. 3-62.
In class: History and Geography of Africa, ICTZ, Race and Human Variation, Images of Africa
Wednesday, February 4
Reading: Keim, Mistaking Africa, Chapters 11-12, pp. 169-187
Assignment: Bring in an item or image that illustrates one of the myths Keim discusses, and present to the class how it illustrates that myth.
PART TWO: LIFE ON THE GROUND IN ONE RURAL COMMUNITY
Monday, February 9
Reading: Regis, Helen A. Fulbe Voices: Marriage, Islam, and Medicine in Northern Cameroon. Boulder: Westview Press, 2003. Introduction and Chapters 1-3, pp. xvii-xxii, pp. 1-68 [note glossary in back of the book] Film: “Awa: A Mother in West Africa” (2002) by Alexis Curtis
Wednesday, February 11
Reading: Regis, Fulbe Voices, Chapters 4-5, pp. 69-116
In class: First paper assignment given; Discussion of Islam in Africa; Wealth in people concept
Monday, February 16
Reading: Regis, Fulbe Voices, Chapters 6-7 and Conclusion, pp. 117-154
In class: Discussion of witchcraft and health
PART THREE: URBAN LIFE
Wednesday, February 18
Reading: Abouet, Marguerite and Clément Obrerie. Aya: Life in Yop City. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2012. Be sure to read the Preface as well as the Interview with Marguerite Abouet in the back of the book, before proceeding to the book itself, pp. 14-151.
Monday, February 23
Reading: Abouet and Obrerie, Aya, pp. 152-345.
Wednesday, February 25
Reading: Mains, Daniel. Hope is Cut: Youth, Unemployment, and the Future in Urban Ethiopia. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012. Introduction and Chapter 1, pp. 1-42.
Film: “Black Gold” (2006)
Monday, March 2
Reading: Mains, Hope is Cut, Chapters 2-4, pp. 43-112
Lecture: Dreams, Youth, Education, and Employment
Wednesday, March 4
Reading: Mains, Hope is Cut, Chapter 5, pp. 113-134
Lecture: Poverty & Wealth-in-People
Wednesday, March 11
In class: “Faat Kine” (2000) by Ousmane Sembène.
Due: First paper
PART FOUR: HEALTH AND HEALING
Monday, March 23
Reading: Langwick, Stacey A. Bodies, Politics, and African Healing. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Prologue and Chapters 1-2, pp. 1-57
Film: “Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard: Strange Beliefs” by Bruce Dakowski (1985)
Wednesday, March 25
Reading: Langwick, Bodies, Politics, and African Healing, Chapter 3, pp. 58-84
Film: “Healers of Ghana” (1996)
Monday, March 30
Reading: Langwick, Bodies, Politics, and African Healing, Chapters 4-5, pp. 87-147
Wednesday, April 1
Reading: Langwick, Bodies, Politics, and African Healing, Chapter 6, pp. 151-174
Class resources: Alma Gottlieb’s videos about baby care
Monday, April 6
Reading: Langwick, Bodies, Politics, and African Healing, Chapters 7-8, pp. 175-231
Class resources: Malaria
Wednesday, April 8
Reading: Langwick, Bodies, Politics, and African Healing, Conclusion and Epilogue, pp. 232-244
Assignment: Bring in evidence of a non-biomedical practice available in the United States.
PART FIVE: DEVELOPMENT, DEBT, AND GLOBAL TRADE
Monday, April 13
- Ferguson, James. “Globalizing Africa? Observations from an Inconvenient Continent.” Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order, 25-49. Durham: Duke University Press. [on reserve]
- Uvin, Peter. “From Structural Violence to Acute Violence.” Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda, pp. 103-140. Kumarian Press. [on reserve]
In class: Discussion of development
Wednesday, April 15
- Ferguson, James. “Governing Extraction: New Spatializations of Order and Disorder in Neoliberal Africa.” Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order, 194-210. Durham: Duke University Press. [on reserve]
- Barnes, Sandra. “Global Flows: Terror, Oil, and Strategic Philanthropy.” African Studies Review 48(1): 1-22. [on reserve]
Film: “Big Men” (2014) by Rachel Boynton
Monday, April 20
Reading: No reading assigned, but critical response paper still due based on first half of “Big Men.”
In class: Remainder of “Big Men” to be shown; discussion of film
PART FIVE: AFRICAN MIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES
Wednesday, April 22
- Capps, Randy, Kristen McCabe and Michael Fix. “New Streams: Black African Migration to the United States.” In Young Children of Black Immigrants in America: Changing Flows, Changing Faces, pp. 45-73. Edited by Randy Capps and Michael Fix. Washington DC: Migration Policy Institute, 2012. [on reserve]
- Babou, Cheikh Anta. “Migration as a Factor of Cultural Change Abroad and at Home: Senegalese Female Home Braiders in the United States.” In African Migrations, pp. 230-248. Edited by Abdoulaye Kane and Todd Leehy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013. [on reserve]
In class: Discussion of African migration; second paper assignment given.
Monday, April 27
- Awokoya, Janet T, ”Reconciling Multiple Black Identities: The Case of 1.5 and 2.0 Nigerian Immigrants.” In The New African Diaspora, p. 97-116. Edited by Isidore Okpewho and Nkiru Nzegwu. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009. [handout in class]
- Maguire, Mark and Fiona Murphy. “Enchanting Ireland.” Integration in Ireland: The Everyday Lives of African Migrants, 64-92. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012. [on reserve]
In class:Theories of Incorporation
Wednesday, April 29
- Okome, Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké. “African Immigrant Relationships with Homeland Countries. In Africans in Global Migration, pp. 199-224. Edited by John A. Arthur, Joseph Takougang, and Thomas Owusu. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2012. [on reserve]
- Coe, Cati. “Transnational Parenting: Child Fostering in Ghanaian Immigrant Families.” In Young Children of Black Immigrants in America: Changing Flows, Changing Faces, pp. 265-296. Edited by Randy Capps and Michael Fix. Washington DC: Migration Policy Institute, 2012. [on reserve]
Monday, May 4
Reading: Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “The Arrangers of Marriage.” The Thing Around Your Neck, pp. 167-187. New York: Knopf Doubleday. [on reserve]
Final exam date: Second paper due.
Reading responses: Every class (40%)
For each class you will write a 500-750-word response to a question or questions on the assigned reading. Late papers will not be accepted, except in cases of documented sickness or crisis.
Your responses should be printed in 12-point font, double-spaced, and are due in every class. Please note your name and the reading to which you are responding, as your responses may help you write the papers.
You may miss three or fewer reading responses over the course of the semester and still receive an A; six or less and receive a B; nine or less and receive a C; twelve or less and receive a D, and pro-rated thereafter. Incomplete or insufficient critical response papers will receive no or partial credit, at the discretion of the instructor. Papers will receive a check (satisfactory), check plus (very good), check minus (bordering on insufficient), or no credit (insufficient). The check marks will be used to determine your grade within the grade range (e.g., A= 90-100, B =80-89, etc).
Over the course of the semester, you will write 26 reading responses.
Participation: Every class (10%)
I expect you to come to class prepared by having done the reading and participate in class discussions on the basis of that preparation. Participation involves not only sharing your opinion and perspective, but also listening carefully to what others have to say, asking questions about things that puzzle or confuse you, synthesizing or summarizing various comments that have been made, and saying where you think the conversation is going. These ways of participating will require your attention and concentration in class. Your thoughtful attention and disciplined concentration will benefit you and the class as a whole.
A definition of an excused absence is that 1) I am informed prior to class by phone or email that you will be unable to make it and 2) on the day that you return, you provide me with documentation for your absence.
Map quiz: Monday, February 2nd (6%)
The short map quiz given at the beginning of class. You will be responsible for filling in a map with the names of:
- The countries of Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe
- The geographical features of: The Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Red Sea; Lake Albert, Lake Chad, Lake Kariba, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Victoria.
For practice, try African countries at https://lizardpoint.com/geography/africa-quiz.php or the map here.
Illustration of a Myth about Africa: Wednesday, February 4th (2%)
Bring an image or news item which illustrates one of the American myths Keim discusses, and present how it illustrates that myth in class.
First paper: Wednesday, March 11th (20%)
Policy brief on marriage, gender or youth across Fulbe Voices, Hope is Cut, and Aya.
Illustration of a non-biomedical belief practiced in the United States: Wednesday, April 8th (2%)
Bring an image or news item which illustrates a non-biomedical practice or belief available in the United States and present how medicine or the malady is thought of differently than it is bio-medicine.
Second paper and presentation: May 13th (10% each)
Paper on African migration to the United States