The program in African Studies enables students to undertake interdisciplinary study of the arts, history, cultures, politics, and development of Africa. As a foundation, students in the program gain a cross-disciplinary exposure to Africa. In the junior and senior years, students develop analytical ability and focus their studies on research in a particular discipline such as anthropology, art history, history, languages and literatures, political science, or sociology or on topics such as global health, economic development, or human rights.
African Studies provides training of special interest to those considering admission to graduate or professional schools or careers in education, journalism, law, management, medicine, politics, psychology, international relations, creative writing, or social work. The interdisciplinary structure of the program offers students an opportunity to satisfy the increasingly rigorous expectations of admissions committees and prospective employers for a broad liberal arts perspective that complements specialized knowledge of a field.
Requirements of the Major
The major for the Class of 2020 With approval from the director of undergraduate studies (DUS), the following changes to the requirements of the major may be fulfilled by students who declared their major under previous requirements.
The major for the Class of 2021 and subsequent classes For students majoring in African Studies, the program consists of twelve term courses, including (1) one African Studies course in the humanities and one in the social sciences; (2) two years of an African language (Arabic, Kiswahili, Yorùbá, isiZulu, or others with permission of the DUS), unless waived by examination; (3) one research methods course, AFST 401 or an alternative course that either serves to deepen the concentration or provide methodological tools for the senior essay, selected in consultation with the DUS; (4) a concentration of four term courses, in a discipline such as anthropology, art history, history, languages and literatures, political science, or sociology, or in an interdisciplinary program such as African American Studies; Ethnicity, Race, and Migration; or Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; or in a cross-disciplinary area such as diaspora studies or development studies; and (5) AFST 491, the senior essay. The required courses represent the core of the program and are intended to expose the student both to the interdisciplinary nature of African studies and to the methodologies currently being brought to bear on the study of African cultures and societies.
Language requirement African Studies majors are required to complete two years of college-level study (or the equivalent) of an African language, and they are encouraged to continue beyond this level. For the language requirement to be waived, a student must pass a placement test for admission into an advanced-level course or, for languages not regularly offered at Yale, an equivalent test of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills administered through the Center for Language Study. Students should begin their language study as early as possible. If the requirement is waived, students must substitute other African Studies courses for the four required language courses.
With permission of the DUS, students may count courses in an additional language, such as French or Portuguese, toward the major requirements. Students are encouraged to include upper-level courses, especially those centering on research and methodology.
Program in African Languages The language program offers instruction in four major languages from sub-Saharan Africa: Kiswahili (eastern and central Africa), Yorùbá (western Africa), Wolof (western Africa) and isiZulu (southern Africa). African language courses emphasize communicative competence, using multimedia materials that focus on the contemporary African context. Course sequences are designed to enable students to achieve advanced competence in all skill areas by the end of the third year, and students are encouraged to spend a summer or term in Africa during their language study.
Courses in Arabic are offered through the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Noncredit instruction in other African languages is available by application through the Directed Independent Language Study program at the Center for Language Study. Contact the director of the Program in African Languages for information.
Students are required to complete a senior essay in AFST 491, working under the guidance of a faculty adviser. With prior approval by the DUS, a combined senior essay may be submitted for those pursuing a double major.
A preliminary statement indicating the topic to be addressed and the name of the faculty adviser must be submitted to the DUS by the end of the second week of the fall term in the senior year.
Students planning to major in African Studies should consult the DUS as early as possible.
Graduate work, M.A. program Students in Yale College are eligible to complete the M.A. in African Studies in one year of graduate work if they begin the program in the third and fourth undergraduate years. Students interested in this option must complete eight graduate courses in the area by the time of the completion of the bachelor’s degree. Only two courses may be counted toward both graduate and undergraduate degrees. Successful completion of graduate courses while still an undergraduate does not guarantee admission into the M.A. program.
Number of courses 12 term courses (incl senior req)
Distribution of courses 1 AFST course in humanities and 1 in social sciences; 2 years of African lang; 4 courses and 1 research methods course in area of concentration
Senior requirement Senior essay (AFST 491)
Substitution permitted If language req is waived, 4 addtl African Studies courses
The program in African Studies considers the arts, history, cultures, languages and literatures, politics, and development of Africa. Students in the program gain a cross-disciplinary exposure to Africa while focusing their studies in a particular discipline such as anthropology, art history, economics, history, languages and literatures, political science, or sociology, or in an interdisciplinary program such as African American Studies; Ethnicity, Race, and Migration; or Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Other areas of concentration (e.g., diaspora studies, development studies) may be chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS). Yale has unusually rich resources for the study of Africa; the Yale Library, notably, has one of the world’s largest collections of African materials.
Courses required for the major include one African Studies course in the humanities and one in the social sciences. Students must also complete the equivalent of two years of college-level study of an African language (Arabic, Kiswahili, Yorùbá, isiZulu, or others with permission of the DUS), as well as four courses in the field of concentration. In addition, students must complete a research methods course and write a senior essay.
Students should begin their language study as soon as possible. Those considering a major in African Studies should consult the DUS.
FACULTY ASSOCIATED WITH THE PROGRAM OF AFRICAN STUDIES
Professors Lea Brilmayer (Law School), John Darnell (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations), Owen Fiss (Law School), Robert Harms (History), Roderick McIntosh (Anthropology), Christopher Miller (African American Studies, French), Nicoli Nattrass (Ethics, Politics, & Economics) (Visiting), Catherine Panter-Brick (Anthropology), Lamin Sanneh (History, Divinity School), Jeremy Seekings (Global Affairs) (Visiting), Ian Shapiro (Political Science), Robert Thompson (History of Art), Michael Veal (Music), David Watts (Anthropology), Elisabeth Wood (Political Science)
Associate Professors Robert Bailis (Forestry & Environmental Studies), Daniel Magaziner (History)
Assistant Professors Katharine Baldwin (Political Science), Adria Lawrence (Political Science), Louisa Lombard (Anthropology), Jonathan Wyrtzen (Sociology)
Senior Lecturer Cheryl Doss (Economics)
Lecturers Lacina Coulibaly (Theater Studies), Anne-Marie Foltz (Public Health), David Simon (Political Science)
Senior Lectors II Sandra Sanneh, Kiarie Wa'Njogu
Senior Lectors Oluseye Adesola, Matuku Ngame
* AFST 001b / ARCG 001b / NELC 001b, Egypt and Northeast Africa: A Multidisciplinary Approach John Darnell
An introduction to Egyptology, examining approximately 10,000 years of Nile Valley cultural records and 3,000 years of Egyptian history. The course presents an overview of the historical and archaeological study of Egypt and her southern neighbor Nubia. Various original written and visual sources are used, including the collections of the Peabody Museum and the Yale Art Gallery, with some material accessible in the classroom. Students gain a basic understanding of the hieroglyphic script and the Ancient Egyptian language, and are able to read some inscriptions in museum visits at the end of the course. Enrollment limited to first-year students. Preregistration required; see under First-Year Seminar Program. WR, HU
* AFST 028b / ENGL 028b / LITR 025b, African Literature in the World Cajetan Iheka
This seminar introduces students to a subset of African literature that has entered the canon of world literature. Bookended by the writings of Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Adichie, we explore the marks of regional specificity in these works and how they transcend local geographical markers to become worldly artifacts. Our considerations include why certain texts cross the boundaries of nation and region while others remain confined within territorial bounds. We also examine advantages of the global circulation of African literary works and the pitfalls of a global readership. The class moves from an introductory unit that orients students to African and world literature to focus on close reading of primary texts informed by historical and theoretical nuances. From analyzing works responding to the colonial condition and the articulation of anticolonial sensibilities, to those narrating the African nation at independence and the postcolonial disillusionment that followed, the seminar attends to the formal and thematic implications of globalization for African literary writing. Authors include Chinua Achebe, Mariama Ba, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Mbolo Mbue, NoViolet Bulawayo, Taiye Selasie, and Chimamanda Adichie. WR, HU
* AFST 128a / ARCG 128a / EGYP 128a / RLST 251a, Magic and Ritual in Ancient Egypt John Darnell
Introduction to ancient Egyptian magic and rituals with an overview on the use of magic and discussion of the different rituals and festivals attested in Ancient Egypt. HU
* AFST 135b / PLSC 135b, Media and Conflict Graeme Wood
The theory and practice of reporting on international conflict and war, and its relation to political discourse in the United States and abroad. Materials include case studies of media coverage of war in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
* AFST 160a / ER&M 426a, What is the Global South? Africa in the World Vivian Lu
This course explores how history, culture, and power shape our conceptualization of the world and its peoples. By critically examining how social categories—such as culture, religion, race, economy, and ideology—have been mapped onto different parts of the world, the course traces how legacies of colonialism and imperialism in Africa continue to inform contemporary perspectives of economic development, geopolitics, and globalization. Students consider the history of world categorizations through the perspectives of the people who mobilized to transform them, from anti-colonial fighters and postcolonial scholars to the Third World solidarity movement and contemporary African activists and artists. SO
AFST 184a / AFAM 160a / AMST 160a / HIST 184a, The Rise and Fall of Atlantic Slavery Edward Rugemer
The history of peoples of African descent throughout the Americas, from the first African American societies of the sixteenth century through the century-long process of emancipation. HU
AFST 208b / AFAM 184b / HSAR 208b, African Arts and Expressive Cultures Cecile Fromont
This course is an introduction to the arts and expressive cultures of a selection of regions from the African continent, and the Americas. Lectures, readings, and discussions explore the relationship between art and leadership, religion, society, and history on the continent and within African diasporic communities in the Americas. Class meetings and assignments make use of the distinguished collection of African objects at the Yale University Art Gallery. HU
* AFST 234a / EP&E 234a, Market Liberalism, Socialist Planning, and Ideas of Development Nicoli Nattrass
Exploration of market liberalism, socialist planning, and contestation over the role of the state in the idea of development. Study of key classical economists; Marxism and Utopian socialism; how collectivisation was applied in the Soviet Union and in the African context; and discussion of the rise of development economics, highlighting the work of W. Arthur Lewis and Amartya Sen. Prerequisite: ECON 110 or 115, or permission of the instructor. SO
AFST 238a / AFAM 192a / AMST 238a / ER&M 238a, Introduction to Third World Studies Gary Okihiro
Introduction to the historical and contemporary theories and articulations of Third World studies (comparative ethnic studies) as an academic field and practice. Consideration of subject matters; methodologies and theories; literatures; and practitioners and institutional arrangements. SO
* AFST 250a, African Reconciliation Narratives Meredith Shepard
This course focuses on the literary and visual cultural productions that took shape around national efforts at reconciliation in three African contexts: post-apartheid South Africa, post-genocide Rwanda, and post-civil war Nigeria. These disparate case studies examine the impact on cultural productions of differing judicial and political formations, as well as the role that literature and film have played in shaping reconciliation law and policy. Our primary readings include novels, memoir, theater, and film, in addition to legal documents from reconciliatory justice systems. Our secondary readings include theories of reconciliation from the fields of law, political science, and cultural studies. HU
AFST 272b / ANTH 272b / ARCG 272b, African Prehistory Jessica Thompson and Roderick McIntosh
Survey of archaeological evidence for the original contributions of the African continent to the human condition. The unresolved issues of African prehistory, from the time of the first hominids, through development of food production and metallurgy, to the rise of states and cities. SO
* AFST 295a / ENGL 295a / LITR 461a, Postcolonial Ecologies Staff
This seminar examines the intersections of postcolonialism and ecocriticism as well as the tensions between these conceptual nodes, with readings drawn from across the global South. Topics of discussion include colonialism, development, resource extraction, globalization, ecological degradation, nonhuman agency, and indigenous cosmologies. The course is concerned with the narrative strategies affording the illumination of environmental ideas. We begin by engaging with the questions of postcolonial and world literature and return to these throughout the semester as we read the primary texts, drawn from Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. We consider African ecologies in their complexity from colonial through post-colonial times. In the unit on the Caribbean, we take up the transformations of the landscape from slavery, through colonialism, and the contemporary era. Turning to Asian spaces, the seminar explores changes brought about by modernity and globalization as well as the effects on both humans and nonhumans. Readings include the writings of Zakes Mda, Aminatta Forna, Helon Habila, Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, Ishimure Michiko, and Amitav Ghosh. WR, HU
* AFST 306a / GLBL 306a, Social Enterprise in Developing Economies II Robert Hopkins
Summer research developed into a case-study project on a topic related to the use of social enterprise in regional economic development. GLBL 305
AFST 333a / HIST 332a, African Encounters with Colonialism Daniel Magaziner
How African societies and peoples encountered, engaged, and endured the colonial and postcolonial world, from the arrival of Kiswahili-speaking traders at the shores of Lake Victoria in the 1840s through the rise and fall of European colonialism and the resulting forms of neocolonialism. Transformations and continuities in African religious life; gendered sociability; popular culture. HU
AFST 335a or b / ER&M 325a or b / HIST 335a or b, A History of South Africa Daniel Magaziner
An introduction to the history of southern Africa, especially South Africa. Indigenous communities; early colonial contact; the legacies of colonial rule; postcolonial mismanagement; the vagaries of the environment; the mineral revolution; segregationist regimes; persistent inequality and crime since the end of apartheid; the specter of AIDS; postcolonial challenges in Zimbabwe, Angola, and Mozambique. HU
AFST 340b / HIST 340b, Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade Robert Harms
Examination of the tumultuous changes experienced by African societies during the era of the Atlantic slave trade, approximately 1450–1850. Focus on the complex interaction between the internal dynamics of African societies and the impact of outside forces. HU
AFST 381b / PLSC 381b, Government and Politics in Africa Katharine Baldwin
The establishment and use of political power in selected countries of tropical Africa. The political role of ethnic and class cleavages, military coups, and the relation between politics and economic development. SO
* AFST 400a / EP&E 499a / PLSC 401a, Democratic Politics and Public Policy in Contemporary Africa Jeremy Seekings
Examination of how the resurgence of competitive, multi-party elections in Africa has reinfused democratic governance and transformed the process of public policy-making. Emphasis on the political landscape of public opinion and voting behavior; elections and political parties; the state and governance; as well as policy-making, with focus on economic and social policies. SO
* AFST 435a / THST 335a, West African Dance: Traditional to Contemporary Lacina Coulibaly
A practical and theoretical study of the traditional dances of Africa, focusing on those of Burkina Faso and their contemporary manifestations. Emphasis on rhythm, kinesthetic form, and gestural expression. The fusion of modern European dance and traditional African dance. Admission by audition during the first class meeting. HU RP
* AFST 491b, The Senior Essay Daniel Magaziner
Independent research on the senior essay. By the end of the sixth week of classes, a rough draft of the entire essay should be completed. By the end of the last week of classes (fall term) or three weeks before the end of classes (spring term), two copies of the final essay must be submitted.
SWAH 110a, Beginning Kiswahili I Kiarie Wa'Njogu
A beginning course with intensive training and practice in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Initial emphasis is on the spoken language and conversation. L1 1½ Course cr
SWAH 130a, Intermediate Kiswahili I Veronica Waweru
Further development of students' speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Prepares students for further work in literary, language, and cultural studies as well as for a functional use of Kiswahili. Study of structure and vocabulary is based on a variety of texts from traditional and popular culture. Emphasis on command of idiomatic usage and stylistic nuance. After SWAH 120. L3 1½ Course cr
SWAH 150a, Advanced Kiswahili I Kiarie Wa'Njogu
Development of fluency through readings and discussions on contemporary issues in Kiswahili. Introduction to literary criticism in Kiswahili. Materials include Kiswahili oral literature, prose, poetry, and plays, as well as texts drawn from popular and political culture. After SWAH 140. L5
SWAH 170a, Topics in Kiswahili Literature Kiarie Wa'Njogu
Advanced readings and discussion with emphasis on literary and historical texts. Reading assignments include materials on Kiswahili poetry, Kiswahili dialects, and the history of the language. After SWAH 160. L5, HU
TWI 110a, Beginning Twi I Staff
This course is an introduction to the basic structure of Twi and the culture of the Akan-Twi-speaking people. Students are introduced to basic grammar and communicative skills and develop familiarity with cultural activities, through role play, conversations, dialogues, and songs. Students acquire basic grammar competence and are able to use appropriate expressions for everyday situations with an understanding and appreciation of the culture of the Akan people in Ghana, West Africa. In addition to Asante Twi, students are exposed to Akuapem Twi and Fante. Course taught through distance learning using videoconferencing technology from Columbia University. Enrollment limited; interested students should e-mail email@example.com for more information. L1 RP 1½ Course cr
YORU 110a, Beginning Yorùbá I Oluseye Adesola
Training and practice in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Initial emphasis is on the spoken aspect, with special attention to unfamiliar consonantal sounds, nasal vowels, and tone, using isolated phrases, set conversational pieces, and simple dialogues. Multimedia materials provide audio practice and cultural information. L1 1½ Course cr
YORU 130a, Intermediate Yorùbá I Oluseye Adesola
Refinement of students' speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. More natural texts are provided to prepare students for work in literary, language, and cultural studies as well as for a functional use of Yorùbá. After YORU 120. L3 1½ Course cr
YORU 150a, Advanced Yorùbá I Oluseye Adesola
An advanced course intended to improve students' aural and reading comprehension as well as speaking and writing skills. Emphasis on acquiring a command of idiomatic usage and stylistic nuance. Study materials include literary and nonliterary texts; social, political, and popular entertainment media such as movies and recorded poems (ewì); and music. After YORU 140. L5
YORU 170a, Topics in Yorùbá Literature and Culture Oluseye Adesola
Advanced readings and discussion concerning Yorùbá literature and culture. Focus on Yorùbá history, poetry, novels, movies, dramas, and oral folklore, especially from Nigeria. Insight into Yorùbá philosophy and ways of life. Prerequisite: YORU 160. L5, HU
* WLOF 110a, Elementary Wolof I Staff
Introduction to the basic sentence structure and other fundamentals of the Wolof language, with attention to the development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Exercises based on major cultural aspects of traditional and modern Senegalese society. Course taught through distance learning using videoconferencing technology from Columbia University. Enrollment limited; interested students should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. L1 RP 1½ Course cr
* WLOF 120b, Elementary Wolof II Staff
Continuation of WLOF 110. Further development of proficiency in the language through communicative methods and the use of authentic learning materials. Prerequisite: WLOF 110 or equivalent. Course taught through distance learning using videoconferencing technology from Columbia University. Enrollment limited; interested students should e-mail email@example.com for more information. L2 RP 1½ Course cr
* WLOF 130a, Intermediate Wolof I Staff
This course will further your awareness and understanding of the Wolof language and culture, as well as improve your mastery of grammar, writing skills, and oral skills. Course materials will incorporate various types of text including tales, cartoons, as well as multimedia such as films, videos, and audio recordings. Wolof 120, or equivalent L3 RP 1½ Course cr
WLOF 140b, Intermediate Wolof Language II Staff
This course will further your awareness and understanding of the Wolof language and culture, as well as improve your mastery of grammar, writing skills, and oral skills. Course materials will incorporate various types of text including tales, cartoons, as well as multimedia such as films, videos, and audio recordings. Wolof 130, or equivalent. Course taught through distance learning using videoconferencing technology from Columbia University. Enrollment limited; interested students should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. L4 RP 1½ Course cr
ZULU 110a, Beginning isiZulu I Sandra Sanneh
A beginning course in conversational isiZulu, using Web-based materials filmed in South Africa. Emphasis on the sounds of the language, including clicks and tonal variation, and on the words and structures needed for initial social interaction. Brief dialogues concern everyday activities; aspects of contemporary Zulu culture are introduced through readings and documentaries in English. L1 1½ Course cr
ZULU 120b, Beginning isiZulu II Sandra Sanneh
Development of communication skills through dialogues and role play. Texts and songs are drawn from traditional and popular literature. Students research daily life in selected areas of South Africa. Prerequisite: ZULU 110. L2 1½ Course cr
ZULU 130a, Intermediate isiZulu I Sandra Sanneh
Development of fluency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing, using Web-based materials filmed in South Africa. Students describe and narrate spoken and written paragraphs. Review of morphology; concentration on tense and aspect. Materials are drawn from contemporary popular culture, folklore, and mass media. After ZULU 120. L3 1½ Course cr
* ZULU 150a, Advanced isiZulu I Sandra Sanneh
Development of fluency in using idioms, speaking about abstract concepts, and voicing preferences and opinions. Excerpts from oral genres, short stories, and television dramas. Introduction to other South African languages and to issues of standardization, dialect, and language attitude. After ZULU 140. Course includes students from Cornell University via videoconference. L5