African Ethnographies

Offered at Union College, Winter 2007

This is a course on the peoples and cultures of Africa south of the Sahara. The course begins by considering the effects and legacies of colonialism, but the focus is on contemporary Africa. No course can reasonably cover all of the rich variety of Africa's peoples and cultures, but this course begins to explore the diversity of the continent, through a series of case studies which examine the interconnection of politics, religion, kinship, economics, ecology, ethnicity and history. The course retains anthropology's traditional interest in small-scale communities, but looks also at the links between them and wider contexts. We will also ask how representations of Africa shape our understanding, and consider how African realities may differ from the common stereotypes of the continent.