African Cultural Studies

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African 905: Seminar in African Cultural Studies

African Political Thought

Instructor: Dr. Michael Schatzberg
Meeting Time: Mondays, 4-5:55 PM
3 credits

The purpose of this seminar is to analyze some of the main currents, themes, and trends of contemporary political thought in Africa. Political thought will have three meanings in this course. First, in its most customary usage, it will refer to the codified writings and speeches of Africa’s major political leaders since independence in 1960. Second, in a slightly more idiosyncratic vein, we shall also understand political thought, and indeed “the political,” to include the thoughts on, and impressions of, politics, political life, and political order contained in the works of novelists, dramatists, filmmakers, musicians, poets, pastors, and other religious figures. Oral literature (proverbs, fables, epics, myths of origin) may also be legitimately included. And third, we shall also examine the largely unstated and implicit understandings of politics and political life that form a subjacent cultural sphere that shapes how we understand what is political and what is not. Political thought is thus defined broadly so that we may deal with certain important political manifestations of African popular culture. In addition, we shall pay occasional attention to how political thought is (or is not) translated into programmatic action.