Course Spotlight: Sound & African Modernity

Course Spotlight: Sound & African Modernity

i Nov 16th No Comments by

Course Description

This course examines sound and technology as tools of cultural invention and identity in contemporary African life. How do music and its mediums construct national belonging in Africa and the diaspora? What are the embodied senses of these? Posthumanism, new media and globalization are examined against competing theories of modernity through the writings of Achille Mbembe, Yvonne Daniels, Alexander Weheliye and others. Music subcultures in which dance elements are essential are theorized as mediums for Black social and technological modernity. We also examine digital production and media distribution techniques for sound cultures including, pop music, podcasts, radio, and online mediums such as Spotify and YouTube. Literature primarily comes from African Studies, New Media Studies, technology and sound studies, with special attention to street dance cultures and ‘neotraditional’ dance practices in Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, and USA (Chicago/NY/Atlanta/Bay Area).

Course Details

African Languages and Literature 605: Sound & African Modernity: Digitizing the Body & Soul of the Nation
3 credits
Tues./Thurs., 2:30-3:45PM
375 Van Hise Hall
Spring 2018

Sample Texts

Africa in Stereo by Tsitsi Jaji
Sounding New Media by Frances Dyson
Living the Hiplife by Jesse Weaver Shipley
Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music by Jacye Clayton

About the Instructor

Reginold Royston is jointly-appointed in the School of Information (formerly SLIS) and the Department of African Cultural Studies. His research interests include New Media and innovation in the African Diaspora. He does ethnographic research in Ghana, the U.S., and the Netherlands, examining Ghana’s digital diaspora. As a researcher, developer and professor of information and technology studies, I have produced and designed dozens of new media apps and campaigns with my students and collaborators. He’s worked for 15 years as a reporter, graphics designer, and cultural critic for Knight Ridder, Village Voice Media, and National Geographic.com. He has been active in community organizations in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Oakland, CA. His teaching and research interests include: Africana Cultural Studies; New Media and Sound Studies; Philosophy and History of Information and Communications Technology; Diaspora and Transnationalism; Black Studies; Anthropology; Online Education; Civic Technology for the Public Good.

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Course Spotlight: Global HipHop and Social Justice

i Nov 15th No Comments by

Professor D was recently featured on a special episode of Le Journal Rappé (The Rap News)
hosted by Senegalese rap stars Keyti and Xuman to discuss the escalating tension between
Donald Trump and Kim Jung-un.

Course Description

Can HipHop help make the world more just? If so, what theory and practice best advance this aim? These opening questions drive this conceptual course. Our critical interrogation of the relationship between HipHop and social justice considers the culture from its U.S. Black Power foundations 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 them with attention to their different 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.

Course Details

African Languages & Literature 233: Global HipHop and Social Justice
3 credits
Mon./Weds., 6:00-7:15PM
Spring 2018
This course is cross-listed with Afro-American studies and it satisfies the ethnic studies requirement.

Sample Readings

Kornhaber, Spencer. “What Makes Eminem’s Trump Diss Special (and What Doesn’t)” The Atlantic. Oct 11, 2017.
Sajnani, Damon. 2015. “HipHop’s Origins as Organic Decolonization.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society. April 2, 2015.

About the Instructor

Damon Sajnani aka Professor D is a HipHop artist/activist/academic and a new assistant professor in the department of African Cultural Studies. He has released several critically acclaimed CDs and written numerous chapters and articles on HipHop and social justice in comparative global context. He is currently writing two books: The African HipHop Movement: Youth Culture and Democracy in Senegal, and Critical HipHop Theory. Find out more here.

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Course Spotlight: Languages, Gender, and Sexuality in African Contexts

i Nov 6th No Comments by

Course Description

Photo of a Zanzibari bed covered with kangas and beads saying, “I love you” in English, decorated by Swahili Muslim women while teaching a bride how to please her husband. (Copyright 2011: Katrina Daly Thompson)

How are gender and sexuality constrained, constructed, performed, and resisted in and through language? We will address these issues through readings and discussion of theories of language and gender, queer linguistics, and feminist discourse analysis, alongside case studies in sociocultural linguistics and linguistic anthropology from Africa, including Nigeria, South Africa, and the Swahili Coast. As a final project, students will write a funding proposal to conduct fieldwork on a topic of their choice. Students interested in language, gender, and sexuality outside of Africa are also welcome and may write the final paper in relation to any linguistic context.

Course Details

African Languages and Literature 407: Language, Gender, & Sexuality in African Contexts
3 credits
Weds. 1:20-3:15, 378 Van Hise Hall
Spring 2018

About the Instructor

Katrina Daly Thompson is a language and cultural studies scholar with a primary interest in African discourse, and her research thus intersects with and draws on linguistic anthropology. As a linguistic ethnographer, Dr. Thompson takes a discourse-centered approach to African cultural studies and an interdisciplinary approach to language, culture, and society. Her research explores the relationships between language, power, and “identity” in Tanzanian, Zimbabwean, and transnational Muslim discourse. She approaches these topics through critical discourse analysis, sociocultural linguistics, feminism, and queer linguistics. Her work fits in with the framework Alistair Pennycook (2004) calls “language studies” (rather than linguistics): “We are engaged in a quite different project that tries to understand language in diverse contexts by drawing on cultural studies, philosophy, literary theory, postcolonial studies, sociology, history, gender studies, and more. The concept of language studies, particularly by analogy with cultural studies, perhaps presents us with a more useful framework for pursuing such goals.”

 

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Course Spotlight: The Need to Help – A History of Humanitarianism

i Nov 6th No Comments by

Course Description

What motivates us to try to alleviate the suffering of people in distant parts of the world? This is one of the questions that threads through this course on the global history of humanitarianism. Students in this course will examine the origins of humanitarian ideas and institutions, and how various humanitarian campaigns have been shaped by geopolitical processes, including the abolition of the slave trade, the spread of missionary Christianity, European imperialism, the Cold War, and economic liberalization. Questions include: who has benefited from various humanitarian aid campaigns throughout history? How have various humanitarian campaigns shaped, and been shaped by, patterns of global inequality? Why have some populations, and not others, been deemed worthy of the world’s compassion? We will explore the worlds, perspectives and visions of humanitarians through a range of primary sources, including diary entries, memoirs, journalistic reportage, photography, documentary film, and archival sources about Wisconsin-based humanitarian campaigns held in the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Sample Readings

  • The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African, Written by Himself (1789)
  • E.D. Morel, Red Rubber: The Story of the Rubber Slave trade that flourishes on the Congo for twenty years, 1890-1910,  (1919).
  • Susan Sontag, Regarding the Suffering of Others
  • Paul Farmer, Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor
  • Lisa Richey, Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World

Course Details

History 201: History of Humanitarianism
4 credits
Tues./Thurs. 4:00-5:15PM, L185 Education Building
Spring 2018

About the Instructor

Emily Callaci is an historian of modern East Africa, with a research focus on twentieth century urban Tanzania. She is the author of a book about urban migration and cultural politics in Tanzania, entitled Street Archives and City Life: Popular Intellectuals in Postcolonial Tanzania. She is currently working on a second project on the transnational history of the family planning movement in twentieth century Africa. Emily’s teaching interests include urban African history, gender and sexuality, humanitarianism, popular culture, Islam in Africa, and African intellectual history.

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Course Spotlight: Africa and (Neo)Liberalism

i Nov 2nd No Comments by

Course Description

The contemporary world is fundamentally defined by the cultural force called “neoliberalism.” While there is some debate about whether, in 2018, this remains to be true, or is equally applicable in all places—which we will consider at length—this graduate seminar is designed to cultivate the knowledge and skills necessary to identify and evaluate neoliberal processes wherever they might be found. Advanced graduate students in many fields, studying many regions of the world, looking at many periods in modern history will collaborate to develop and make use of such skills. Moreover, studying the concept from the perspective of Africa will offer members of the course an opportunity to interrogate core assumptions about the modern world, which may not appear to be relevant from other vantage points. In Africa, neoliberalism is both a presence and an absence. It penetrates daily life in some places and skips it in others. It is both new and old. It registers at every level of society, from state policy to popular culture and everyday selfhood. Most importantly, neoliberalism depends on Africa, just as classical liberalism did. Indeed, one the primary questions we will ask in this course is: Can we know (neo)liberalism fully if we don’t know it from Africa?

Seminar participants will read and discuss a wide range of scholarly work on Africa and liberalism, many from the list below. The seminar will culminate in a workshop of research papers. Students may turn to any primary texts or case studies, from anywhere in the world, to advance their arguments about (neo)liberalism.

Sample Readings

  • James Ferguson, Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order
  • Mahmood Mamdani, Define and Rule
  • John  L. Comaroff and Jean Comaroff, Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism
  • Simon Gikandi, Slavery and the Culture of Taste
  • Ato Quayson, Oxford Street, Accra
  • Fredrick Cooper, Africa in the World

Other assorted essays and chapters on liberalism and empire, theory from the global south, and neoliberal rationalities in African cinema, literature, and popular culture by authors such as:

  • Achille Mbembe
  • Elizabeth A. Povinelli
  • Tejumola Olaniyan
  • Moradewun Adejunmobi
  • Jonathan Haynes
  • Uday Singh Mehta
  • Kristin Peterson
  • Carla Freeman

Enrollment Details

African Languages and Literature 905: Seminar in African Cultural Studies: Africa and (Neo)Liberalism
3 credits
Mon. 1:20-3:15pm, 574 Van Hise Hall
Spring 2018

About the Instructor

Matthew H. Brown is a specialist of African screen media, with a focus on “Nollywood,” Nigeria’s video film industry. He is currently working on a book about the ways in which Nigerian television and film address subjects according to the logic of liberal and neoliberal political economics. Following from past research and teaching in the areas of oral traditions, literature, popular music, and motion pictures, Brown is working on new research projects related to African media literacies, the politics of poverty, and the disciplinary foundations of African cultural studies.

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Course Spotlight: Africa + The Internet

i Jun 23rd No Comments by

Course Description

Africa, the continent with the world’s most concentrated poverty, has been the highest adopter of mobile technology for the past 10 years. Africa’s Internet, though hardly reliable, is the world’s primary “mobile first” network, and so leads innovation in ways that are typically ahead of tech development in the U.S. Why is this the case? This upper level course surveys the past 20 years of digital technology on the continent as a whole. Readings also include case study research of micro-tech practices (pinging, social video and mobile money transfer, etc.) as well as political and social use of new media (Arab/African Spring, #bringbackourgirls). Information Technology and Development are key areas of focus in this course, as well as broader social anthropology of Africa. Sites of interest include Anglophone Africa, but also broader African digital publics and events: Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and more. Students will be encouraged to think critically about their own technology use, and also develop tools that may be useful for Africa’s media ecology. The coursework includes readings and critical online responses. Students are expected to write 1 major term paper and produce 1 major tech project/prototype. Prior knowledge of coding or Web development is not required.

Enrollment Details

Africa 405: Africa + the Internet: An Introduction to Digital Life on the Continent
Meeting Time: Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:30 – 3:45 PM
3 credits

About the Instructor

Dr. Reginold Royston is jointly-appointed in the School of Information (formerly SLIS) and the Department of African Cultural Studies. Dr. Royston’s research interests include New Media and innovation in the African Diaspora. He does ethnographic research in Ghana, the U.S., and the Netherlands, examining Ghana’s digital diaspora. As a researcher, developer and professor of information and technology studies, Dr. Royston has produced and designed dozens of new media apps and campaigns with students and collaborators. Dr. Royston worked for 15 years as a reporter, graphics designer, and cultural critic for Knight Ridder, Village Voice Media, and National Geographic.com. He has been active in community organizations in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Oakland, CA.

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Course Spotlight: Sin and Laughter: Transgressive Arts from Southern Africa to the Middle East

i May 15th No Comments by

Course Description

What’s the best Arab sitcom? How have African ideas of acceptable and unacceptable humor evolved over the history of cosmopolitanism? Where do we find evidence of religious dogma in the tradition of creative humor? What the hell does Dante have to do with African photography? This course will address these questions as we study creative culture in Africa and the Middle East.

Readings, viewings, and screenings will include: Sharif ‘Arafa, Georges Bataille, Adelaide Casely-Hayford, JM Coetzee, Aida Muluneh, Trevor Noah, and Binyavanga Wainaina

PREREQUISITES WILL BE WAIVED FOR ANY STUDENT WITH JUNIOR STANDING; Other students are also welcome to contact instructor for possible waivers: samuel.england@wisc.edu

Enrollment Details

African 405: Sin and Laughter: Transgressive Arts from Southern Africa to the Middle East
3 Credits
Tuesday and Thursday 5:30-6:45
Fall 2017

Sai Mado / The Distant Gaze by Aida Muluneh courtesy of David Krut Projects

About the Instructor

Samuel England is Assistant Professor of Arabic at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He teaches Classical and modern Arabic, Mediterranean cultures, and sub-Saharan African sources. Prof. England writes on Classical Arabic poetry and prose, courts in the Middle East and Europe, Crusades literature, Arab national arts of the past century, and Romance-language treatments of Islam. His first book, currently in press, is Medieval Empires and the Culture of Competition: Literary Duels at Islamic and Christian Courts (Edinburgh University Press).

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Course Spotlight: Curatorial Studies Exhibition Practice

i Apr 3rd No Comments by

Course Description

This course will engage students in all aspects of the preparation of an exhibition for the Chazen Museum of Art or other exhibition spaces on campus. Students will help conceptualize the exhibition and its layout, research and interpret individual objects, prepare wall texts for the display and other materials published in print or online in conjunction with the exhibition.

Enrollment Details

Art History 506: Curatorial Studies Exhibition Practice
3 credits
Monday 4:30-6:30PM
Fall 2017

Photo by Henry Drewal.

About the Instructor

Born and raised in Brooklyn and Hempstead, NY, Henry John Drewal received his BA from Hamilton College majoring in French and minoring in Fine Arts. After graduation he joined the Peace Corps, taught French and English, and organized arts camps in Nigeria. During his two years in Nigeria he apprenticed himself to a Yoruba sculptor – a transformative experience that led him to interdisciplinary studies at Columbia University in African art history and culture, receiving two Masters’ degrees and a PhD in 1973.

Since 1991 he has been the Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison. He has published several books, edited volumes, exhibition catalogues, and many articles on African and African Diaspora arts. As Adjunct Curator of African Art at the Chazen Museum of Art of UW-Madison, he curated the permanent African art gallery there, and most recently – Double Fortune, Double Trouble: Art for Twins among the Yoruba at the Fowler Museum-UCLA. He has also produced a number of films documenting African and African Diaspora arts, and lectured widely on these topics (see his website).

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Course Spotlight: African Art and Architecture

i Mar 10th No Comments by

Course Description

This course examines the rich heritage of African arts and architecture as they shape and have been shaped by the histories and cultural values (social, political, religious, philosophical, and aesthetic) of African peoples, both past and present, on the continent where humanity — and art — began. Topics include: artists and creative process; an historical overview of five major traditions (26,000 BCE to 1900 CE); textiles, decorative, and body arts; architecture; and contemporary expressions. Museum visits, artists’ demonstrations, and films supplement the course. Requirements include 1 short paper (analysis of an African art object); mid-term exam; 2 Africa-related event reviews; and final exam. Extra-credit arts-related projects are encouraged, and an African arts festival concludes the semester.

An artist with his shrine mural in Benin. (Photo by Henry Drewal)

Enrollment Details

Afro-American Studies/Art History 241: Introduction to African Art and Architecture
3 credits
Monday/Wednesday 2:30-3:45PM
Fall 2017

About the Instructor

Born and raised in Brooklyn and Hempstead, NY, Henry John Drewal received his BA from Hamilton College majoring in French and minoring in Fine Arts. After graduation he joined the Peace Corps, taught French and English, and organized arts camps in Nigeria. During his two years in Nigeria he apprenticed himself to a Yoruba sculptor – a transformative experience that led him to interdisciplinary studies at Columbia University in African art history and culture, receiving two Masters’ degrees and a PhD in 1973.

Since 1991 he has been the Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison. He has published several books, edited volumes, exhibition catalogues, and many articles on African and African Diaspora arts. As Adjunct Curator of African Art at the Chazen Museum of Art of UW-Madison, he curated the permanent African art gallery there, and most recently – Double Fortune, Double Trouble: Art for Twins among the Yoruba at the Fowler Museum-UCLA. He has also produced a number of films documenting African and African Diaspora arts, and lectured widely on these topics (see his website).

 

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Course Spotlight: Environmental Studies 402 – Global Indigeneity and Sustainability

i Dec 14th No Comments by

Course Description

Featuring prominent international faculty and researchers from the UW-Madison and other research universities and world. Indigenous leaders and researchers offering weekly presentations about their work with indigenous / aboriginal / native / campesino communities, tribes, and cooperatives in the US and abroad.

Enrollment Details

Environmental Studies 402- Global Indigeneity and Sustainability
Alberto Vargas  (LACIS-IRIS)
Fri 12pm-1:55pm, L150 Education Bldg.
Spring 2017
1 credit

 

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

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