Look for the catalog of 2020-21IntroSems to roll out here in August.
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Power, Prestige, and Politics in African Societies
The aim of this seminar is to infuse a human dimension into the study of politics on the African continent. In particular, considering the 1800s to the present day, and drawing on case studies from across the continent, the seminar will prompt students to creatively connect the political with the personal. We will examine how gender, intimate and romantic relationships, arguments between parents and children, attempts to access and harness the power of the sacred, and fights for status and authority of all kinds, were pivotal forces shaping the form that politics and political activism assumed on the continent. Moving away from a tendency to view ‘politics’ in isolation from other aspects of daily life, this seminar emphasizes the multiple elements—personal, public and those elements awkwardly poised between the two—that propelled individuals and societies to act ‘politically’. In Africa, as elsewhere in the world, public and intimate spheres were, and are, close neighbors. This seminar encourages students to be attentive to the ways in which political mobilization is tied to very human struggles for self-expression and autonomy, in all realms of life.