African 233: Global HipHop and Social Justice

Damon Sajnani

3 credits, fulfills Ethnic Studies requirement

Professor D featured on Journal Rappé (Rap News of Senegal)

Can HipHop culture help make the world more just? If so, what theory and praxis best advance this aim? These are the questions that drive this conceptual course. Our critical interrogation of the relationship between HipHop and social justice considers the culture from its U.S. Black Power era underpinnings to its disparate contemporary “glocal” manifestations. We begin by asking what is “HipHop,” what is “social justice,” and what is their relationship, and proceed to consider how HipHop can be an effective force for social justice and what obstacles are in the way. We’ll check out HipHop songs and videos from around the world, including North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia and elsewhere, and we will compare and contrast them in their respective social and cultural contexts. Our discussions will develop familiarity with important concepts in Black studies and social theory such as race and colonialism, imperialism and hegemony, structure and agency, identity and strategic essentialism. Weekly readings will typically pair writings specifically on HipHop with theory from across the humanities and social sciences including philosophy, sociology, cultural studies, and political economy. We will endeavor to consider the race/class/gender dimensions of our weekly topics. Students will acquire a broader familiarity with HipHop activism, and develop new conceptual tools and critical thinking skills.

Recommended Texts:
Rabaka, Reiland. Hip Hop’s Inheritance: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Hip Hop Feminist Movement. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2011.

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