Anthropology and Africa (AAAS 105x)




This undergraduate course explores the links between race, empire, and the production of anthropological knowledge about Africa. Africa has occupied a central place in the making of anthropology as a discipline. Ethnographic studies of African contexts generated leading theories of kinship and society, money and economy, ritual and religion, violence, law, and political order. And, while anthropologists have often used their work to critique racism and social injustice, the discipline of anthropology has been, at times, accused of being the “handmaiden of colonialism” – its discourses complicit in the making of dominant ideologies of racial alterity and imperial power. In this course, students revisit moments of intersection between the history of modern Africa and the history of anthropology in order examine the role of knowledge production in the politics of world-making. We interrogate “Africa” as an ideological category, a source of identity and collective consciousness, and a geo-political context of social life. We ask: What is the political potential of various forms of knowledge production? What do ethnographic engagements with African contexts offer by means of understanding the world at large? And what may anthropological thinking offer by way of envisioning better futures in Africa and beyond? 
Syllabus0 bytes