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College Catalogue

Africana Studies

Faculty
Donald M. Carter
Shelley P. Haley (Classics)
Heather Merrill, Chair
Angel David Nieves
Yumi Pak
Courtney L. Thompson
Nigel Westmaas

 

The Africana Studies Department focuses on the historical transformation of African peoples as they spread throughout the Atlantic World and beyond. Central to the department is the exploration of the experiences of African peoples with subjugation and liberation as well as their struggle for self-determination and self-expression.

A concentration in Africana studies consists of 11 courses: 220, 221 (or History 141 for the Classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012), 301, 381 or 382, one course focusing on gender and sexuality at the 200 or 300-level, one 400-level seminar, 549 (beginning with the Class of 2013), 550 and three approved electives. Only one 100-level course will be accepted and the other two electives must be at or above the 200- level. Concentrators are encouraged to have a basic working knowledge of an appropriate language other than English. The department will accept study abroad and/or coursework in overseas programs toward the concentration with the approval of the chair. Before electing a concentration in Africana studies, students must meet with the chair to design a program of study, planning in advance so that they will be able to complete prerequisites for courses counting toward the concentration.

The Senior Program in Africana Studies is an interdisciplinary, year-long project culminating in a thesis, performance or exhibition. The department must approve the project in the fall of the student's senior year. Any member of the department may supervise the Senior Project. Students who have an average of 3.3 (88) or higher in the concentration may receive honors through distinguished work in 550. A complete description of the Senior Program is available from the chair.

A minor in Africana Studies must include 220, 221, 381 or 382, one 400-level seminar and one elective.

The following courses may be used by concentrators and minors to fulfill their core and elective requirements. Certain variable topics elective courses from other disciplines not listed may be substituted with permission of the chair. Please consult the appropriate departments and programs for full descriptions of courses, requirements and prerequisites.

101F Introduction to Africana Studies.
Examines the nature, methods and development of black/Africana studies. A comparative and interdisciplinary introduction to the study of African and diaspora cultures and history. Emphasis will be on an exploration of some of the key texts and issues. Section 02 - Writing-Intensive. Limit of 20. Section 01: Westmaas Section 02: Merrill.

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103F Principles of Geoscience: Geology and Human Events in North Africa and the Middle East.
An interdisciplinary study exploring the influence of environment, water resources, climate change and bedrock geology of North Africa and the Middle East on prehistory, history, international relations and prospects for the future. Special emphasis on developing GIS skills. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) (Proseminar.) Three two-hour class sessions per week. Required field trip to the Adirondack region. Not open to students who have taken any other course in Principles of Geoscience. (Same as Geosciences 103.) Maximum enrollment, 16. Tewksbury.

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105F Blackness in American Popular Culture.
This course explores representations of blackness in American popular culture. Readings and films serve as a point of departure for questioning what constitutes popular culture and considering its function in our society. Using an interdisciplinary lens that takes into account social, political, cultural, and historical realities we interrogate how representations of blackness circulate and assess how they impact individuals and the larger society. The course is organized thematically, covering popular culture in a variety of contexts from print media to visual arts. C Thompson.

[108] Performing Blackness.
Focuses on the revolutionary work of performance artists in the Diaspora and the ways in which they use the arts as a form of political dissent, dissidence, celebration and social change. A look at the historic interrelationship between identity, social change and the performance arts, considering artists’ creative powers as consumers, producers, critics, supporters, objects and subjects of “art” as expressed in selected examples of contemporary visual art, theatre, music, film, spoken word poetry and other texts. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

[120F,S] Introduction to Afro-Latina/o History and Cultures.
Examines Afro-Latino culture and history, developing a broad historical overview while focusing on the continuing demographic changes of the present generation in and across the Americas. A focus on important historical and cultural links between African Americans and Latinos of African descent. Exposure to a variety of historical, literary and artistic sources, and the perspectives of important scholars and theorists, permits a critical introduction to the works and ideas that have formed the core of the growing field in Afro-Latino/a studies. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

140S Understanding Caribbean Carnival.
Introduces the Carnival tradition in the Caribbean, examining the rise of Carnival from its slavery and post-emancipation roots; the political and historical dynamic associated with Carnival customs; the complex cultural expressions forged by Carnival’s unique mix of folklore and religion including vodun, dance and dress styles, satire and musical forms like reggae and calypso; the interrelations between the economic and cultural products created by Caribbean peoples, and the spread, content and impact of modern Carnival to large North American cities. Westmaas.

160F History of Jazz.
A study of jazz from its origins (its African heritage, blues and ragtime) to 1950. A survey of jazz styles, including New Orleans and Chicago styles, boogie-woogie, swing, bebop and cool jazz. Not open to seniors. (Same as Music 160.) Woods.

[170] The Mestizo Metropolis: Racialization and the American Global City.
Focuses on the strategic roles that emerging Latino/a and African communities play in urban centers like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami and San Antonio. Explores how both groups establish and maintain distinctive social and cultural identities in the American metropolis. Film, literature, art, architecture and the media will examine the varying forms of cultural expression and representation of both groups. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

[202] African Americans and Cinema.
Exploration of the history of cinema produced by African Americans and the representation of African Americans in cinema. Topics include early cinema, D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation; Oscar Micheaux and the “race films” of the 1920s-1940s; early jazz films; Richard Wright’s Native Son as novel and film; Hollywood “problem pictures” of the 1940s-1950s; radical 1960s-1970s experiments by William Greaves, Melvin Van Peebles, and the “LA Rebellion”; Daughters of the Dust; Spike Lee, and Marlon Riggs. Course hosts visits by accomplished filmmakers and scholars. (Same as Comparative Literature 202 and Art History 202.)

[203] African-American History to 1877.
Traces African-American history from the slave trade through the end of Reconstruction. Course material will include secondary and primary sources, including slave narratives, court documents, photography, music, and advertisements. The course will consider broad themes, including agency and resistance, the relationship of race to categories of gender, class, and sexuality, and the meaning of freedom. (Same as History 203.)

204S African-American History from 1877 to the Present.
Examines the history of African Americans in the post-emancipation United States, looking closely at black communities during periods of industrialization, migration, war, and globalization. Lectures and discussion will draw on primary sources, including films, novels, poetry, radio and television, and speeches. Conversations will focus on the diversity of experiences and identities that have comprised the African-American experience in the United States. (Same as History 204.) Day Moore.

208F Blackness and Masculinity: James Baldwin, Chester Himes and Richard Wright.
An introduction to the major works of James Baldwin, Chester Himes and Richard Wright. Students will read novels, short stories and essays in order to examine the connections between race, sexuality, gender and class that produce structures of Black masculinity in the United States. By doing so, students will articulate and think through the ways in which these authors interrogated issues such as racialized violence, expatriation, creative writing, gender politics and the prison system during the mid-twentieth century. Additional readings will be drawn from scholars working in literary studies, critical race studies and queer theory. Pak, Y.

[214] The Politics of Difference.
Emergence of "race" and "culture" as terms and associated concepts from history of colonial relations and in 20th-century anthropological thought. History and development of interrelation among terms and concepts with attention to historical and cross-cultural contexts, including space, class and gender, cultural racism in contemporary Europe, diversity and multiculturalism in contemporary U.S., and additional cases elsewhere in the world. Prerequisite, one course in anthropology. (Same as Anthropology 214.)

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218S Politics of Africa.
Comparative examination of the domestic politics of sub-Saharan Africa. Central focus on explaining the recent rise of both multi-party democracy and state collapse across the continent. Examination of the colonial legacy, the nature of the African state, ethnic conflict, class divisions, the role of the military and the problems of economic underdevelopment. Prerequisite, 112, 114 or Africana Studies 101. (Same as Government 218.) Olarinmoye.

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[219] South African Women: Contemporary and Historical Issues, 1913-Present.
Examines historical and contemporary isuues affecting South African women in the pre and post-Apartheid eras. There is an urgent need for critical reexamination of the nature of citizenship and gender in South Africa as mediated by structures of power: the state, the nation, the family. The legacy of political transformation shaped by the social movements women developed during the anti-apartheid struggle will be explored through various forms of cultural production: literature, art and film.

220F Imagining Africa.
The idea of Africa historically has served as a metaphor for exoticism, sexuality or savagery in western discourse. In the contemporary world, it has been imagined as the site of seemingly insoluble problems such as the collapse of the state, genocide and famine. The course explores popular notions of Africa and its relationship to a global African Diaspora. Carter.

221F Africa in Diaspora.
Examines the experience of African people in the Americas, Europe and Africa from the 13th century to 1968. Themes include slavery and resistance, the return to Africa, freedom after emancipation, the struggle for democracy and a place in civil society, the struggle against empire and imperialism, migration and immigration, race and color ideology, revolution and rebellion, and the struggle for civil liberty. Explores the historical meaning of being black in the Atlantic world and how African people have shaped and been shaped by the historical developments of the past seven centuries. H Merrill.

222F Race, Gender and Culture.
A critical philosophical examination of the normative categories of race, gender and culture. Topics include the origin, character and function of racial, gender and social identities. Analysis will focus on questions concerning the malleability of these identities, as well as questions concerning their psychological and social significance. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One course in philosophy, Africana studies or women’s studies. (Same as Philosophy 222 and Women's Studies 222.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Franklin.

[223] Black Female Voices: Writing Women of Color in the African Diaspora.
Explores the different ways black women have struggled for equality, constructed their own identity and understood their own place in American history. Emphasizes critical thinking about African American women's history and focuses on the many forms with which we tell the stories of women's lives. (Same as American Studies 223.)

[224S] Gender, Space and Identity in the African Diaspora.
Examines the centrality of space and gender in the taken for granted ways we think about the world and its organization. How does gender intersect with class, race and other power relations embedded in the places where we live our daily lives? Explores how men and women come to occupy different places in the world – literally and figuratively – or occupy the same places in different ways. Case studies focus on the spatial scales of the body, home, public spaces, the workplace, borders, diasporic and spaces of migration, and the nation and state across the African Diaspora. (Same as Women's Studies 224.)

229S African American Women’s Fiction.
In this course, we will explore the literary contributions of 20th century African American women fiction writers. More specifically, we will examine the shared and distinctive ways in which Black women writers represent the politics of Black womanhood in their writings. In addition to analyzing representations of Black female identity within the works of Zora Neale Hurston, Ann Petry, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, J. California Cooper, and others, we will trace specific themes such as: race, gender, class, power, and privilege. Courtney Thompson.

230F Black Internationalism: The Making of Black Political Culture.
An examination of the development of a vibrant black political culture that was transnational in scope and predicated on the shared experiences of people of African descent. Drawing upon the networks of communication created by the spread of ideas, news and rumor during the slave revolts in the Caribbean at the end of the 18th century, as well as writings that included novels, political tracts, speeches, newspapers and magazines in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 or one course in government, history or sociology. Maximum enrollment, 20.

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[233F] Geographies of Race and Gender.
Examines how “natural” differences of gender and race are created through discourses, images and everyday practices in particular spatial contexts. Using historical and fictional texts, ethnographies, theoretical discussions and films the course explores the production of racial and gender differences in European development and imperialist expansion. Focuses on three historical periods in the production of racialized and gendered geographies: plantation/slave societies in the Americas, African Colonialism, contemporary globalization and ethnic diversity in Europe. (Same as Women's Studies 233.)

236F Black Women Activists Writing Change.
In this course, we will explore the life writings of 20th century Black women activists. Using the autobiographical perspectives of Emma Mashinini, Shirley Chisholm, Wangari Maathai, Anne Moody, and Mamphela Ramphele as a primary lens, we will investigate constructions of Black female identity and how these women challenged and/or reinforced cultural expectations of Black womanhood. In addition, we will consider some of the different dimensions of their activist work along with relevant scholarship on Black women’s tradition of resistance. C Thompson.

238S African-American Theatre from Ira Aldridge to August Wilson.
Study, discussion and oral performance of selected works of drama by African-Americans from the 1860s to the present. Focuses on themes within the plays in relation to the current social climate and how they affect the play's evolution in the context of changing U.S. cultural and political attitudes. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 110 or 120. Open to sophomores and juniors only. (Same as Theatre 238.) Cryer.

242S The Black Self: Identity and Consciousness.
A philosophical exploration of a variety of historical and contemporary works that illuminate and influence the phenomenological experience of being black. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One course in philosophy or Africana studies, or consent of instructor. (Same as Philosophy 242.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Franklin.

259F Studies in Jazz.
A study of the life, times and music of selected jazz musicians from 1950 to the present. Emphasis on the range of jazz styles from that era including funky, fusion and free jazz. Prerequisite, 160 or consent of instructor. (Same as Music 259.) Woods.

[262S] African-American Popular Music.
A study of the music of selected popular African-American artists, including rhythm-and-blues artists, black gospel soloists and performers of soul music and rap music. Focus on the social issues, musical modes of expression and cultural importance of the artists. Prerequisite, one full-credit course in music. (Same as Music 262.)

[268] Race, War and Society in United States History.
An examination of the relationship between war and racial ideologies in the development of American social relations from the colonial period to the present. Specifically focuses on how issues of race have been central to the ways in which war has been conceptualized and waged both within the United States and beyond. Explores how the social, cultural, regional evolution of the United States is intimately connected to the encounters of various racial-ethnic groups with violence emerging in the context of periods of warfare. (Same as History 268.)

278S South Africa, 1652-2004.
Survey from the first Dutch settlement on the Cape in 1652 through the first multiracial democratic election in 1994. Issues will be explored through the experiences of indigenous peoples, such as the Khoisan, Zulu and Xhosa, migrant laborers from Asia, the “coloured” community, Afrikaners and British settlers. (Same as History 278.) Grant.

301S Knowledge and Method in Global African Studies.
The methods of scholars differ from the creative processes of artists, but the knowledge they produce provides disciplinary takes on the same reality. Examines exemplary works of scholarship, art, literature, music and film, and focuses on the method and/or process by which these works are made. Uses these works to unravel the nuts and bolts of scholarly writing, citing sources, internal citations and organization as students produce their own writing using at least three of the methods/approaches discussed in the class. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 220, 221 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.

[303S] Black Popular Culture.
Examines black popular culture of the African diaspora through an exploration of a series of representations, cultural practices and folk traditions. Participants will interrogate the "black experience" and its legacy in aspects of consumer culture, film, music (jazz, hip hop, blues), television, social class and gender. Considers the methodological and theoretical implications of these approaches for both anthropological inquiry and Africana studies. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

[304] Seminar in e-Black Studies: Race and Cyberculture.
The term “eBlack studies” describes the ongoing application of current digital information technology toward the production, dissemination and collection of historical knowledge critical to the discipline of black studies and to the overall black experience. Explores the future of scholarship, teaching and community work through the use of eBlack studies and explores digital culture as it critically interrogates, interprets, defines and documents the experiences of people of African descent. Applications like Google, Facebook, MySpace and Second Life will be examined. Maximum enrollment, 12.

[307S] Pan-African Perspectives in the 21st Century.
A focus on Pan-Africanism as a philosophy, social movement and cultural phenomenon, specifically focusing on the impact of the movement and the thrust for dignity by African peoples globally. Within Pan-Africanism itself the course will seek to redefine critical aspects of Pan-Africanism in light of interventions by African feminists to end the silences relating to patriarchy and gender oppression. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

[308F] Reclaiming an Ancient African Past.
Examines the ancient evidence for the Afrocentric claim of the African genesis of Western civilization. Explores the modern political context of and debate around the backlash of eurocentric scholars against these claims as well as the epistemological framing of the sociology of knowledge. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as Classics 308.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

310F Black Women's Experience in the United States.
Examination of the experiences of black women in the United States from 1800-2006. Emphasis on the intellectual history of black women. Topics include the legacy of slavery, the role and influence of religion and the black church, the history of black women's education, the development of black feminism, the roles of and attitudes toward black lesbian and bisexual women, the role and impact of black women in popular culture and music. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 101 or consent of instructor. (Same as Women's Studies 310.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Haley.

321F Haiti and the Caribbean.
An introduction to Haiti’s history since the 1791 slave revolt and the creation of the Haitian state. Examines the historical, political, geo–political relationships that Haiti held with Europe and its Caribbean and North American neighbors; Haiti’s antislavery impact on the Americas and the Caribbean; the consequences of the U.S. occupation of Haiti; Haiti’s political and economic tragedy in the 20th century from the reign of the Duvaliers to the consequences of the tragic earthquake of 2010. Prerequisite, 221. Westmaas.

[328S] Globalization and African Diaspora in Europe.
Europe is a contested site of identity, citizenship and belonging where postcolonial populations have become increasingly visible. Focusing on the lives people of African descent and the border between Europe and Africa, explores globalization in contemporary Europe while examining such issues as economic and political restructuring, border politics, colonial legacies, national and ‘hybrid’ identity, transnationalism, the meaning of ‘home’, humanitarianism and refugees, European immigration policies and detention spaces, and the politics of fear. (Proseminar.) (Same as Anthropology 328.) Maximum enrollment, 16.

[330] Digital History and New Media: Theories and Praxis.
Focuses on the process of creating digital history and the impact of digital media technologies on the theory and practice of U.S. history and critical race theory, broadly defined. Readings, labs/workshops and discussions address the philosophy and practice of digital history, questioning how digital tools and resources are enabling and transforming analysis both in traditional print scholarship, and in emerging digital scholarship across the humanities. (Same as American Studies 330.) Maximum enrollment, 12.

334F,S Queers of Color Critique.
An introduction to the interdisciplinary field of queers of color critique. This intellectual tradition emphasizes the convergence of sexual and racial constructs as they cut across and through queer theory. Our reading material will consist of works that exemplify and enact queers of color critique and draw upon critical race studies, literary studies, postcolonial studies and gender/feminist studies. Scholars include Gloria Anzaldúa, James Baldwin, Gayatri Gopinath and E. Patrick Johnson. We will consider how such a methodology frames discussions around sexuality, gender and race politics. Prerequisite, One course in Africana Studies. Yumi Pak.

340S Race and American Democracy.
Survey of the role of race and equality in American democracy. Special emphasis on understanding how notions of racial equality have advanced and declined throughout American history and the role of race in current American politics. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one 200-level course in American politics. (Same as Government 340.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Klinkner.

[358] Post-Conflict Truth, Reconciliation and Social Justice: South Africa and Rwanda.
Explores moments of political and social violence in contemporary eastern and southern Africa, and efforts to promote peace-building and social justice in the aftermath of violent conflicts including creating institutions that will foster lasting peace, stability and reconciliation. In the context of South Africa and Rwanda, explores a variety of international and national mechanisms for pursuing peace-building and justice, including apologies, truth and reconciliation commissions, war crimes tribunals, reparations and reconstruction. Maximum enrollment, 12.

[372] Unraveling Cleopatra.
Cleopatra was a witness to and a shaper of the history of ancient Egypt and the late Roman Republic. To posterity the historical Cleopatra is an enigma, but her image in film, literature, art and popular culture is ever present. Through authors such as Horace, Plutarch, Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw and through cinematic treatments from the 1940s-1970s, explores how the historical figure of Cleopatra became both the signifier and embodiment of sexual and racial politics across historical periods. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one course in classical studies or Africana studies. (Same as Classics 372 and Women's Studies 372.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

373S Black Women Activists Writing Change.
In this course, we will explore the life writings of 20th century Black women activists. Using the autobiographical perspectives of Emma Mashinini, Shirley Chisholm, Wangari Maathai, Anne Moody, and Mamphela Ramphele as a primary lens, we will investigate constructions of Black female identity and how these women challenged and/or reinforced cultural expectations of Black womanhood. In addition, we will consider some of the different dimensions of their activist work along with relevant scholarship on Black women’s tradition of resistance. Prerequisite, Introduction to Africana Studies or a 200 level course in Africana Studies on gender, women, or sexuality. Courtney Thompson.

[374] Ancient Egypt.
A study of the history of ancient Egypt and of its interaction with other ancient African kingdoms, including Nubia, Kush and Punt. Examination of Egypt’s prehistory, language, social and gender relations, and cultural development. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 240 or Africana Studies 101. (Same as Classics 374.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

381F Freedom: Topic for 2013-2014 - TBA.
TBA (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 220, 221 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20.

382S Global African Social Movements.
A broad, interdisciplinary introduction to global social and political movements in Africa and the Americas throughout a 200-year period from the revolutions at the end of the 18th century to the modern political and social movements. Addresses theories of social movements, their racial and cultural formation, the variations in type and consequence of movements, and the contexts in which they arose. Examples of movements to be studied are the anti-slavery movement, the Pan-Africanist movement, the women’s movement and the rise of modern NGOs. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101, 220, 221 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Westmaas.

405S Seminar: Black Feminist Thought.
Interdisciplinary examination of the tradition of black feminist thought as it spans African and African-American heritages. Exploration of how black women are not simply victims of oppression but visionary agents of change. Areas examined include history, literature, music, art, education, sociology and film. Prerequisite, one course in women's studies or consent of instructor. (Same as Women's Studies 405.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Haley.

435F Seminar in Urban Worlds.
An important part of the black experience in the Americas has been shaped by and unfolded in complex black urban worlds. As a symbol of an imagined black experience the notion of the ghetto often serves as a flashpoint in popular culture, policy debates and social memory. Explores the idea of the isolated inner city community or ghetto in history as well as the great creativity, challenges and triumphs of black urban life. Prerequisite, 220, 221 or 381. Maximum enrollment, 12. D Carter.

495S Topic: TBA.
A course designed to examine race and diversity issues in the sporting world from the early 20th century to the present day. Topics will examine the impact of race and racism in major world sports and the Olympic movement - inclusive of soccer, tennis, boxing, cricket, baseball , and athletics . Open to juniors and seniors only. Concentrators and minors given priority. Maximum enrollment, 12.

549F Senior Seminar in Africana Studies.
Critical evaluation of selected topics in the field of Africana Studies. Culminates in written presentation of a detailed thesis/project proposal. Maximum enrollment, 20. Merrill.

550S Senior Program.
An interdisciplinary project to be approved by the committee. Limited to senior concentrators. Merrill.

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