Africana Studies

Students may complete a minor in Africana Studies.

Steering Committee

Michael H. Allen, Professor of Political Science on the Harvey Wexler Chair in Political Science and
Co-Director of the International Studies Program
Linda-Susan Beard, Associate Professor of English
Pim Higginson, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies
Alice Lesnick, Director and Term Professor in the Bryn Mawr/Haverford Education Program and Director of Africana Studies (on leave semester I)
Kalala Ngalamulume, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History and
Co-Director of the International Studies Program
Mary Osirim, Interim Provost and Professor of Sociology
Robert Washington, Professor of Sociology
Susan White, Professor of Chemistry

The Africana Studies Program brings a global outlook to the study of Africa and its Diasporas. Drawing on analytical perspectives from anthropology, economics, history, literary studies, political science and sociology, the program focuses on peoples of African descent within the context of increasing globalization and dramatic social, economic and political changes.

Bryn Mawr’s Africana Studies Program participates in a U.S. Department of Education-supported consortium with Haverford College, Swarthmore Colleges, and the University of Pennsylvania. Through this consortium, Bryn Mawr students have the opportunity to take a broad range of courses by enrolling in courses offered by all participating institutions. Also, Bryn Mawr’s Africana Studies Program sponsors a study abroad semester at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and participates in other study abroad programs offered by its consortium partners in Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Senegal.

Students are encouraged to begin their work in the Africana Studies Program by taking “Introduction to African Civilizations” (HIST B102). This required introductory level course, which provides students with a common intellectual experience as well as the foundation for subsequent courses in Africana Studies, should be completed by the end of the student’s junior year.

Minor Requirements

The requirements for a minor in Africana Studies are the following:

  • One-semester interdisciplinary course Bryn Mawr HIST B102: Introduction to African Civilizations (ICPR 101 at Haverford).
  • Five additional semester courses from an approved list of courses in Africana studies.
  • A senior thesis or seminar-length essay in an area of Africana studies.

Students are encouraged to organize their course work along one of several prototypical routes. Such model programs might feature:

  • Regional or area studies; for example, focusing on blacks in Latin America, the English-speaking Caribbean or North America.
  • Thematic emphases; for example, exploring class politics, ethnic conflicts and/or economic development in West and East Africa.
  • Comparative emphases; for example, problems of development, governance, public health or family and gender.

The final requirement for the Africana Studies minor is a senior thesis or its equivalent. If the department in which the student is majoring requires a thesis, she can satisfy the Africana Studies requirement by writing on a topic that is approved by her department and the Africana Studies Program coordinator. If the major department does not require a thesis, an equivalent written exercise—that is, a seminar-length essay—is required. The essay may be written within the framework of a particular course or as an independent study project. The topic must be approved by both the instructor in question and the Africana Studies Program coordinator.

COURSES

ANTH B200 The Atlantic World 1492-1800
The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the way in which peoples, goods, and ideas from Africa, Europe, and the Americas came together to form an interconnected Atlantic World system. The course is designed to chart the manner in which an integrated system was created in the Americas in the early modern period, rather than to treat the history of the Atlantic World as nothing more than an expanded version of North American, Caribbean, or Latin American history.
Approach: Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Latin Amer/Latino/Iberian Peoples & Cultures; International Studies Major; Peace and Conflict Studies
Crosslisting(s): HIST-B200
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Gallup-Diaz,I.
(Spring 2015)

ARCH B101 Introduction to Egyptian and Near Eastern Archaeology
A historical survey of the archaeology and art of the ancient Near East and Egypt.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Ataç,M.
(Fall 2014)

ARCH B230 Archaeology and History of Ancient Egypt
A survey of the art and archaeology of ancient Egypt from the Pre-Dynastic through the Graeco-Roman periods, with special emphasis on Egypt’s Empire and its outside connections, especially the Aegean and Near Eastern worlds.
Approach: Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Attentive
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Middle East Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Ataç,M.
(Spring 2015)

CITY B237 Themes in Modern African History
The course examines the cultural, environmental, economic, political, and social factors that contributed to the expansion and transformation of pre-industrial cities, colonial cities, and cities today. We will examine various themes, such as the relationship between cities and societies; migration and social change; urban space, health problems, city life, and women.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Environmental Studies
Crosslisting(s): HIST-B237
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Ngalamulume,K.
Fall 2014: Current topic description: A seminar exploring indigenous societies and cultures of the Americas through interdisciplinary scholarship. The course’s aim is to explore the evolution of several indigenous societies and cultures in order to frame Native peoples as actors on historical playing fields that were as rich, complex, and subject to change as those that the European intruders and their descendants later occupied.

CITY B266 Schools in American Cities
This course examines issues, challenges, and possibilities of urban education in contemporary America. We use as critical lenses issues of race, class, and culture; urban learners, teachers, and school systems; and restructuring and reform. While we look at urban education nationally over several decades, we use Philadelphia as a focal “case” that students investigate through documents and school placements. This is a Praxis II course (weekly fieldwork in a school required)
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Praxis Program
Crosslisting(s): EDUC-B266; SOCL-B266
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Cohen,J.
(Spring 2015)

CITY B269 Black America in Sociological Perspective
This course provides sociological perspectives on various issues affecting black America: the legacy of slavery; the formation of urban ghettos; the struggle for civil rights; the continuing significance of discrimination; the problems of crime and criminal justice; educational under-performance; entrepreneurial and business activities; the social roles of black intellectuals, athletes, entertainers, and creative artists.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): SOCL-B229
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Washington,R.
(Fall 2014)

COML B279 Introduction to African Literature
Taking into account the oral, written, aural and visual forms of African “texts” over several thousand years, this course will explore literary production, translation and audience/critical reception. Representative works to be studied include oral traditions, the Sundiata Epic, Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah, Ayi Kwei Armah’s Fragments, Mariama Bâ’s Si Longe une Lettre, Tsitsi Danga-rembga’s Nervous Conditions, Bessie Head’s Maru, Sembène Ousmane’s Xala, plays by Wole Soyinka and his Burden of History, The Muse of Forgiveness and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat. We will address the “transliteration” of Christian and Muslim languages and theologies in these works.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): ENGL-B279
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

COML B388 Contemporary African Fiction
Noting that the official colonial independence of most African countries dates back only half a century, this course focuses on the fictive experiments of the most recent decade. A few highly controversial works from the ’90s serve as an introduction to very recent work. Most works are in English. To experience depth as well as breadth, there is a small cluster of works from South Africa. With novels and tales from elsewhere on the huge African continent, we will get a glimpse of “living in the present” in history and letters.
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): ENGL-B388
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Beard,L.
(Spring 2015)

ECON B324 The Economics of Discrimination and Inequality
Explores the causes and consequences of discrimination and inequality in economic markets. Topics include economic theories of discrimination and inequality, evidence of contemporary race- and gender-based inequality, detecting discrimination, and identifying sources of racial and gender inequality. Additionally, the instructor and students will jointly select supplementary topics of specific interest to the class. Possible topics include: discrimination in historical markets, disparity in legal treatments, issues of family structure, and education gaps. Prerequisites: At least one 200-level applied microeconomics elective; ECON 253 or 304; ECON 200 or 202.
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): CITY-B334
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

EDUC B200 Critical Issues in Education
Designed to be the first course for students interested in pursuing one of the options offered through the Education Program, this course is also open to students exploring an interest in educational issues. The course examines major issues in education in the United States within the conceptual framework of educational transformation. Fieldwork in an area school required (eight visits, 1.5-2 hours per visit).
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Intensive
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Child and Family Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Lesnick,A.
(Spring 2015)

EDUC B260 Multicultural Education
An investigation of education as a cultural event that engages issues of identity, difference, and power. The course explores a set of key tensions in the contested areas of multiculturalism and multicultural education: identity and difference; peace and conflict; dialogue and silence; and culture and the individual psyche. Students will apply theory and practice to global as well as specific, localized situations — communities and schools that contend with significant challenges in terms of equity and places where educators, students, and parents are trying out ways of educating for diversity and social justice. Fieldwork of two to three hours per week.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Praxis Program
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Cohen,J.
(Spring 2015)

EDUC B266 Schools in American Cities
This course examines issues, challenges, and possibilities of urban education in contemporary America. We use as critical lenses issues of race, class, and culture; urban learners, teachers, and school systems; and restructuring and reform. While we look at urban education nationally over several decades, we use Philadelphia as a focal “case” that students investigate through documents and school placements. This is a Praxis II course (weekly fieldwork in a school required)
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Child and Family Studies; Praxis Program
Crosslisting(s): SOCL-B266; CITY-B266
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Cohen,J.
(Spring 2015)

ENGL B217 Narratives of Latinidad
This course explores how Latina/o writers fashion bicultural and transnational identities and narrate the intertwined histories of the U.S. and Latin America. We will focus on topics of shared concern among Latino groups such as imperialism and annexation, the affective experience of migration, race and gender stereotypes, the politics of Spanglish, and struggles for social justice. By analyzing novels, poetry, performance art, testimonial narratives, films, and essays, we will unpack the complexity of Latinidad in the Americas.
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Latin Amer/Latino/Iberian Peoples & Cultures
Crosslisting(s): SPAN-B217
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

ENGL B234 Postcolonial Literature in English
This course will survey a broad range of novels and poems written while countries were breaking free of British colonial rule. Readings will also include cultural theorists interested in defining literary issues that arise from the postcolonial situation.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): COML-B234
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Tratner,M.
(Spring 2015)

ENGL B235 Reading Popular Culture: Freaks
This course traces the iconic figure of the “freak” in American culture, from 19th c. sideshows to the present. Featuring literature and films that explore “extraordinary Others”, we will flesh out the ways in which our current understandings of gender, sexuality, normalcy, and race are constituted through images of “abnormality.”
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

ENGL B245 Focus: “I Remember Harlem”
A transdisciplinary study of the famous Black metropolis as a historic, geo-political, and cultural center (from the Jazz Age to the Hip Hop revolution) this course acknowledges 400 years of history and analyzes the contemporary gentrification of Harlem. We interrogate closely the seismic changes in “Harlem” as a signifier.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 0.5
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

ENGL B262 Survey in African American Literature
Pairing canonical African American fiction with theoretical, popular, and filmic texts from the late-19th Century through to the present day, we will address the ways in which the Black body, as cultural text, has come to be both constructed and consumed within the nation’s imagination and our modern visual regime.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Intensive
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Beard,L.
(Fall 2014)

ENGL B263 Toni Morrison and the Art of Narrative Conjure
All of Morrison’s primary imaginative texts, in publication order, as well as essays by Morrison, with a series of critical lenses that explore several vantages for reading a conjured narration.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

ENGL B264 Black Bards: Poetry in the Diaspora
An interrogation of poetic utterance in works of the African diaspora, primarily in English, this course addresses a multiplicity of genres, including epic, lyric, sonnet, rap, and mimetic jazz. The development of poetic theories at key moments such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement will be explored.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Beard,L.
(Spring 2015)

ENGL B279 Introduction to African Literature
Taking into account the oral, written, aural and visual forms of African “texts” over several thousand years, this course will explore literary production, translation and audience/critical reception. Representative works to be studied include oral traditions, the Sundiata Epic, Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah, Ayi Kwei Armah’s Fragments, Mariama Bâ’s Si Longe une Lettre, Tsitsi Danga-rembga’s Nervous Conditions, Bessie Head’s Maru, Sembène Ousmane’s Xala, plays by Wole Soyinka and his Burden of History, The Muse of Forgiveness and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat. We will address the “transliteration” of Christian and Muslim languages and theologies in these works.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): COML-B279
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

ENGL B346 Theories of Modernism
This course will investigate a wide range of works that have been labeled “modernist” in order to raise the question, “Was there one modernism or were there many disparate and competing ones?”
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

ENGL B362 African American Literature: Hypercanonical Codes
Intensive study of six 18th-21st century hypercanonical African American written and visual texts (and critical responses) with specific attention to the tradition’s long use of speaking in code and in multiple registers simultaneously. Focus on language as a tool of opacity as well as transparency, translation, transliteration, invention and resistance. Previous reading required.
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Beard,L.
(Spring 2015)

ENGL B379 The African Griot(te)
A focused exploration of the multi-genre productions of Southern African writer Bessie Head and the critical responses to such works. Students are asked to help construct a critical-theoretical framework for talking about a writer who defies categorization or reduction.
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

ENGL B381 Post-Apartheid Literature
South African texts from several language communities which anticipate a post-apartheid polity and texts by contemporary South African writers which explore the complexities of life in “the new South Africa.” Several films emphasize the minefield of post-apartheid reconciliation and accountability.
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): COML-B381
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

ENGL B388 Contemporary African Fiction
Noting that the official colonial independence of most African countries dates back only half a century, this course focuses on the fictive experiments of the most recent decade. A few highly controversial works from the ’90s serve as an introduction to very recent work. Most works are in English. To experience depth as well as breadth, there is a small cluster of works from South Africa. With novels and tales from elsewhere on the huge African continent, we will get a glimpse of “living in the present” in history and letters.
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): COML-B388
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Beard,L.
(Spring 2015)

FREN B254 Teaching (in) the Postcolony: Schooling in African Fiction
This seminar examines novels from Francophone and Anglophone Africa, critical essays, and two films, in order better to understand the forces that inform the African child’s experiences of education.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

GNST B103 Introduction to Swahili Language and Culture I
The primary goal of this course is to develop an elementary level ability to speak, read, and write Swahili. The emphasis is on communicative competence in Swahili based on the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning. In the process of acquiring the language, students will also be introduced to East Africa and its cultures. No prior knowledge of Swahili or East Africa is required.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Mshomba,E.
(Fall 2014)

GNST B105 Introduction to Swahili Language and Culture II
The primary goal of this course is to continue working on an elementary level ability to speak, read, and write Swahili. The emphasis is on communicative competence in Swahili based on the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning. Students will also continue learning about East Africa and its cultures. Prerequisite: GNST B103 (Introduction to Swahili Language and Culture I) or permission of the instructor is required.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

HIST B102 Introduction to African Civilizations
The course is designed to introduce students to the history of African and African Diaspora societies, cultures, and political economies. We will discuss the origins, state formation, external contacts, and the structural transformations and continuities of African societies and cultures in the context of the slave trade, colonial rule, capitalist exploitation, urbanization, and westernization, as well as contemporary struggles over authority, autonomy, identity and access to resources. Case studies will be drawn from across the continent.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Ngalamulume,K.
(Fall 2014)

HIST B200 The Atlantic World 1492-1800
The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the way in which peoples, goods, and ideas from Africa, Europe, and the Americas came together to form an interconnected Atlantic World system. The course is designed to chart the manner in which an integrated system was created in the Americas in the early modern period, rather than to treat the history of the Atlantic World as nothing more than an expanded version of North American, Caribbean, or Latin American history.
Approach: Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Latin Amer/Latino/Iberian Peoples & Cultures; International Studies Major; Peace and Conflict Studies
Crosslisting(s): ANTH-B200
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Gallup-Diaz,I.
(Spring 2015)

HIST B236 African History since 1800
The course analyzes the history of Africa in the last two hundred years in the context of global political economy. We will examine the major themes in modern African history, including the 19th-century state formation, expansion, or restructuration; partition and resistance; colonial rule; economic, social, political, religious, and cultural developments; nationalism; post-independence politics, economics, and society, as well as conflicts and the burden of disease. The course will also introduce students to the sources and methods of African history.
Approach: Critical Interpretation (CI); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Ngalamulume,K.
Spring 2015: Current topic description: The course deals with the continuities and transformations of African societies and cultures in the context of European colonial rule, capitalist exploitation, urbanization, and westernization.

HIST B237 Topic: Modern African History
This is a topics course. Course content varies.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): CITY-B237
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Ngalamulume,K.
Fall 2014: Current topic description: A seminar exploring indigenous societies and cultures of the Americas through interdisciplinary scholarship. The course’s aim is to explore the evolution of several indigenous societies and cultures in order to frame Native peoples as actors on historical playing fields that were as rich, complex, and subject to change as those that the European intruders and their descendants later occupied.

HIST B243 Atlantic Cultures
This is a topics course. Course content varies.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

HIST B265 Colonial Encounters in the Americas
The course explores the confrontations, conquests and accommodations that formed the “ground-level” experience of day-to-day colonialism throughout the Americas. The course is comparative in scope, examining events and structures in North, South and Central America, with particular attention paid to indigenous peoples and the nature of indigenous leadership in the colonial world of the 18th century.
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Latin Amer/Latino/Iberian Peoples & Cultures
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

HIST B336 Topics in African History
This is a topic course. Course content varies.
Counts towards: Africana Studies; International Studies Major
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Ngalamulume,K.
Fall 2014: Current topic description: The course will focus on the issues of public health history, social and cultural history of disease as well as the issues of the history of medicine. We will explore various themes, such as the indigenous theories of disease and therapies; disease, imperialism and medicine; medical pluralism in contemporary Africa; the emerging diseases, medical education, women in medicine, and differential access to health care.

HIST B337 Topics in African History
This is a topics course. Topics vary.
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Ngalamulume,K.
Spring 2015: Current topic description: The course examines witchcraft accusations, witch hunts and violence against the accused as a tool for regulating behavior and gender relationships in everyday life, as well as witchcraft, power and politics.

HIST B349 Topics in Comparative History
This is a topics course. Topics vary.
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

POLS B243 African and Caribbean Perspectives in World Politics
This course makes African and Caribbean voices audible as they create or adopt visions of the world that explain their positions and challenges in world politics. Students learn analytical tools useful in understanding other parts of the world. Prerequisite: POLS 141 or 1 course in African or Latin American history.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Allen,M.
(Spring 2015)

SOCL B225 Women in Society
A study of the contemporary experiences of women of color in the Global South. The household, workplace, community, and the nation-state, and the positions of women in the private and public spheres are compared cross-culturally. Topics include feminism, identity and self-esteem; globalization and transnational social movements and tensions and transitions encountered as nations embark upon development.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Child and Family Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

SOCL B229 Black America in Sociological Perspective
This course provides sociological perspectives on various issues affecting black America: the legacy of slavery; the formation of urban ghettos; the struggle for civil rights; the continuing significance of discrimination; the problems of crime and criminal justice; educational under-performance; entrepreneurial and business activities; the social roles of black intellectuals, athletes, entertainers, and creative artists.
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC); Inquiry into the Past (IP)
Counts towards: Africana Studies
Crosslisting(s): CITY-B269
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Washington,R.
(Fall 2014)

SOCL B266 Schools in American Cities
This course examines issues, challenges, and possibilities of urban education in contemporary America. We use as critical lenses issues of race, class, and culture; urban learners, teachers, and school systems; and restructuring and reform. While we look at urban education nationally over several decades, we use Philadelphia as a focal “case” that students investigate through documents and school placements. This is a Praxis II course (weekly fieldwork in a school required)
Approach: Cross-Cultural Analysis (CC)
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Child and Family Studies; Praxis Program
Crosslisting(s): EDUC-B266; CITY-B266
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s):Cohen,J.
(Spring 2015)

SPAN B217 Narratives of Latinidad
This course explores how Latina/o writers fashion bicultural and transnational identities and narrate the intertwined histories of the U.S. and Latin America. We will focus on topics of shared concern among Latino groups such as imperialism and annexation, the affective experience of migration, race and gender stereotypes, the politics of Spanglish, and struggles for social justice. By analyzing novels, poetry, performance art, testimonial narratives, films, and essays, we will unpack the complexity of Latinidad in the Americas.
Counts towards: Africana Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Latin Amer/Latino/Iberian Peoples & Cultures
Crosslisting(s): ENGL-B217
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)