Political Science | African Politics
Y338 | 3563 | Firmin-Sellers
For most of us, Africa remains an unknown continent. Africa is not
included in most high school or college curricula; and, when Africa is
treated in the national media, we usually learn about the continent's
tragedies -- famine, ethnic violence, and civil war.
This course gives students the opportunity to go beyond simple
stereotypes about Africa. The course is divided into two parts. In the
first, we explore key phases in African history: the political and social
organization of indigenous societies; the imposition of colonial rule; and
the nationalist period, when Africans reclaimed their independence.
Once we understand Africa's history, we can then turn to the second
part of the course: an exploration of contemporary African politics. We
will focus on two important issues: democratization and economic reform.
How are governments and citizens managing a move toward more democratic
government? How is democratization complicated by Africa's diverse ethnic
composition, and by pressures for economic development? What role have
international actors played in motivating both political and economic
By focusing on these questions, we will be better able to understand not
only Africa's tragic failures (such as the ethnic conflict in Rwanda), but
also Africa's greatest successes (such as the transition to majority rule
government in South Africa).
We will draw on a variety of sources to learn about African politics,
including books, articles, novels and film. The reading load will average
75 pages each week. Students will be required to write a series of 2-3 page
papers, a midterm examination, and a final.