Course Spotlight: Contests and Debates from South Africa

Course Spotlight: Contests and Debates from South Africa

i Aug 25th No Comments by

Course Description

dcfvDr. Ciraj Rassool, a scholar-in-residence at the Center for the Humanities, will teach a three week, one-credit seminar course open to graduate students at UW-Madison, on the topic of Changing History, Changing Museums: Contests and Debates from South Africa.

Enrollment Details

History 753: Changing History, Changing Museums: Contests and Debates from South Africa
1 credit, graduates only
M/W 11:00-2:00pm
Sept. 12-Oct.2
Fall 2016

About the Instructor

Ciraj Rassool is Professor of History and Director of the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of the Western Cape. He is a board member of the South African History Archive, and is also a member of the Human Remains Advisory Committee of the Minister of Arts and Culture, South Africa. He is co-author or co-editor of several books about museums and public culture including Skeletons in the Cupboard: South African Museums and the Trade in Human Remains, 1907-1917 (2000; republished 2015), Recalling Community in Cape Town: Creating and Curating the District Six Museum (2001), Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations (2006) and The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories, and Infrastructures (2015).

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Course Spotlight: The Global African City

i May 23rd No Comments by

Course Description

The global city in Africa has emerged as a spatial and social form that drives profound human, cultural, economic and political changes on the continent.  As a nexus of crisis and renewal, it is a site of immense importance for the future of Africa.  The seminar will put this phenomenon in multi-layered historical perspective, questioning the origin and development of large cities in Africa, the development of various metropolitan forms and processes, and their connections with global networks and infrastructures.  We will look at cities as built-spaces (laboratories for urban planning and architectural experiments) and as social milieus where people live, work and grapple with urban resources and constraints.  We will explore the rapid transformation of urban landscapes in Africa by showing how neoliberal policies are, in many ways, continuations of colonial practices wherein cities were designed to meet the needs of political and economic domination.  Moving from compounds, streets, markets and power institutions to stories of more intimate, gendered and individual experiences of the urban, we will develop sets of analytical tools for raising future research questions on the history of cities in Africa.

Global_African_City_editTo reach new levels of analytical reflection and academic intervention, the seminar will be built around an innovative assignment: you will work in a team that will study a city of your choice.  In addition to short review papers, each team-member will contribute to the planning, research, writing and assembling of an extensive dossier on the chosen metropole, together with a digital website/forum.  This task will familiarize you with the rewards and dynamics of semi-collective scholarly work, and of using digital tools for history.  At the end of the semester, we will organize a mini-conference.

Sample Readings

  • Liora Bigon, Between Local and Colonial Perceptions: the History of Slum Clearances in Lagos (Nigeria), 1924-1960
  • Silvia Bisi and Kerstin Pinther, Afropolis: City, Media, Art: Kairo, Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Johannnesburg
  • Preeti Chopra, The Poetics and Politics of Space: Art, Memory, and Change in the Indian City
  • Filip De Boeck and Marie France Plissart, Kinshasa, Tales of the Invisible City
  • Toyin Falola, African Urban Space in Historical Perspective
  • Abdoumaliq Simone, For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities
  • Under Siege, Four African Cities, Freetown, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos: Documenta 11
  • Bruce Whitehouse, Migrants and Strangers in an African City: Exile, Dignity, Belonging

Enrollment Details

History 861: The History of Africa
4 credits
Graduates only; no prerequisite needed; graduates in all fields welcome.
Wed: 3:30 pm-5:25 pm, Humanities 5245
Fall 2016

About the Instructor

Professor Florence Bernault came to UW-Madison in 1996 after being trained in African history at the University of Paris 7 and earning her Ph. D. under the mentorship of Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, a pioneer in the history of African cities and modern urbanites.  Bernault works on the history of contemporary Equatorial Africa and has published on urban, youth and political cultures in Brazzaville (Congo) and Libreville (Gabon). She is finishing a book on histories of power and spiritual agency in colonial Gabon (to be published by Duke University Press).

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Course Spotlight: Human Rights and Education

i Apr 4th No Comments by
Children sit on the floor of the classroom while their teacher stands in front of the chalkboard in Malawi. Photo by Deepa Srikantaiah

Children sit on the floor of the classroom while their teacher stands in front of the chalkboard in Malawi. Photo by Deepa Srikantaiah

Course Description

This class will explore key questions related to global education and human rights, from the abstract to the practical, and the individual to the global levels. It will start by asking the big questions that underlie current debates about education and human rights: Who, if anyone, should have a right to education? If they have a right to education, do they have a right to a particular kind of education? Who should decide these questions, and how? Who should provide this education, and how? How does education as a human right relate to human rights education, and what are the implications for our understanding of what educating people is expected to generate?

These questions will lead students to examine global human rights frameworks, global education models, and global models for assuring that every country has the money they need to provide education to its citizens. Students will couple this examination with a careful study of the practicalities of education and human rights approaches, to ask the fundamental question: can the global human rights framework transform current educational, national, indentity-based, and economic inequities? For example, what happens with education as a human right, and education for human rights, in situations of war, internal displacement, refugee crises, non-democratic governments, and entrenched social inequities? Do public schools have the responsibility to teach or to practice human rights education? And, can one global education and human rights model best meet the needs of our incredibly diverse global population?

Students will root their explorations of these and other questions in particular case studies, likely including: children affected by AIDS in Malawi; children affected by government violence in Zimbabwe; youth refugee and returnee education in South Sudan; Syrian refugee children’s education in Europe; children affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; indigenous groups’ “reeducation” in Colombia; youth and adult immigrant students’ rights in the U.S.; education and nation-building in Myanmar; and education to eradicate child labor in India.

Students are expected to be active readers and analysts, regular participants in the classroom, and good colleagues. Student assignments include two short papers (5 double-spaced pages) and a group presentation on an issue related to human rights and education. One of the papers and the group presentation will build off of students’ own interests (geographical, topical, etc.), while the second paper will be about one of the articles or video materials that we use during the class.

Enrollment Details

Educational Policy Studies 150: Human Rights and Education
3 credits
Tu/Th 9:30-10:45am, Education L177
Fall 2016

About the Instructors

Nancy Kendall is associate professor of educational policy studies, specialized in comparative, international, and global education policy. Kendall conducts comparative ethnographic research on global development education policies and their intersections with children’s and families’ daily lives. Kendall has conducted extended research in Malawi, Mozambique, and the U.S., and has conducted shot-term research in Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Zimbabwe.

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Course Spotlight: Con Artists in Arabic

i Jan 15th No Comments by

Adel Imam in the trapCourse Description

If pulling off a great prank is a challenge, then profiting from it is an art. Arabic literature, comics, films, and television love to showcase the challenge and the art itself—that’s the topic of African 300, on Arabic literary culture in translation. The course will work with sources ranging from the last Iraqi caliphate to 21st-century animation. This course asks how people conspire, beg, steal, and fool each other with creative language. How do we know who’s believable? How does belief itself operate in fiction? What are the consequences of catching a thief, fraud, or fast talker in the act?  Are we as critical readers also complicit at times, despite all our analytical efforts?

Sample Readings/Viewings

  • Abdelfattah Kilito
  • Alifa Rifaat
  • The Arabian Nights
  • Ghassan Kanafani
  • Jay-Z, Samia Mehrez
  • Tewfik Saleh

Enrollment Details

African Languages and Literature 300: Con Artists in Arabic
3 credits
T/TH 2:30-3:45pm, 575 Van Hise Hall
Spring 2016

About the Instructor

Samuel England is Assistant Professor of Arabic in the Department of African Languages & Literature. He teaches Classical and modern Arabic, Mediterranean cultures, and sub-Saharan African sources. His specializations and research interests include Classical Arabic poetry and prose, drama, court culture in the Middle East and Europe, Crusades literature, and Romance-language treatments of Islam.

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Course Spotlight: Introduction to International Development Education

i Jan 15th No Comments by

Course Description

The dawn of the new millennium was marked by a historic, global resolve to “expand hope and opportunity for people around the world” – in particular, through global commitments to development and education. What is ‘development’, and how is ‘education’ imagined in relation to and shaped by development imperatives? How do we understand and explain – and critically inquire into – such unprecedented global commitments to development/education? What geopolitical, economic and sociocultural arrangements – and actors and institutions – and narratives and discourses – underpin ‘international development education’ policies and projects? Fifteen years later, as nations commit to a new set of ‘Global Goals’, has the millennial euphoria about the ‘largest anti-poverty movement in history’ been justified?

An (ILO) wall poster reading “For tomorrow’s development, let’s rid agriculture of child labor today.”

An (ILO) wall poster reading “For tomorrow’s development, let’s rid agriculture of child labor today.”

These questions are at the heart of EPS 760: Introduction to International Development Education. Targeted at graduate students with international or local cross-cultural interests, the course considers international development education from a variety of theoretical frames – from human capital to human rights and capabilities; from institutional to critical/neo-Marxist and feminist approaches; and from anthropological and post-structural to post-colonial critiques. EPS 760 is designed as a seminar, structured around instructor-led discussions and student participation, and aims to support students’ pursuit of their geographical and thematic interests.

Same Readings

  • Jean and John Comaroff, Theory from the South, Or, How Euro-America is Evolving toward Africa
  • Julia Elyachar, Markets of Dispossession: NGOs, Economic Development and the State in Cairo
  • James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine: ‘Development,’ Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho; Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution
  • Cindi Katz, Growing up Global: Economic Restructuring and Children’s Everyday Lives
  • Amy Stambach, Lessons from Mount Kilimanjaro: Schooling, Community, and Gender in East Africa

Enrollment Details

Educational Policy Studies 760: Introduction to International Development Education
3 credits
M 9:00am-12:00pm, L150 Education Building
Spring 2016

About the Instructor

Miriam Thangaraj is an advanced graduate student at the Department of Education Policy Studies, in the final throes of dissertation writing. Her dissertation, Reconstructing Childhood: Silk, School, SEZ, is an ethnographic account of how global discourses of ‘childhood’, ‘child rights’, formal education and ‘development’ that underlie compulsory education/anti-child labor policies are negotiated by children and their families in a renowned silk weaving center in southern India. Her research has been supported by the SSRC’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship and the NAEd’s Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, above all, by Nancy Kendall, her advisor.

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Course Spotlight: Political Ethnography – The Politics of Daily Life

i Nov 13th No Comments by

primus beerCourse Description

This graduate seminar will focus on the politics of the quotidian, the small events, phenomena, attitudes, and emotions of daily life, with the assumption that however apolitical they might seem to be on the surface, they might really be deeply political on levels we might not always be aware of. In other words, where do we situate the political realm? The seminar will also ask how can we relate these small events, phenomena, behaviors, and attitudes — politics writ small — to the larger political phenomena that interest us. Can we link the micro-world of daily existence and experience to the macro-world of both politics and political science? Moreover, and this is primarily a methodological question, how may we best accomplish this linkage? The course will be interdisciplinary in nature, and students from all fields of study will be welcome

Sample Readings

  • Nigel Barley, The Innocent Anthropologist: Notes From a Mud Hut
  • Brenda Chalfin, Neoliberal Frontiers: An Ethnography of Sovereignty in West Africa
  • James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed
  • Bob White, Rumba Rules: The Politics of Dance Music in Mobutu’s Zaire

Enrollment Details

Political Science 919: Political Ethnography – The Politics of Daily Life
3 credits
W 3:30-5:25pm, 422 North Hall
Spring 2016

About the Instructor

Michael Schatzberg is a professor in the department of Political Science and a former director of the African Studies Program. He has worked extensively on the DR Congo, as well as on Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda. His major teaching and research interests are in African politics, comparative politics, political culture, and qualitative methodology. In the past he has written on the politics of beer. One of his current research projects deals with the politics, economics, and culture of soccer in sub-Saharan Africa, while a second explores trans-historical patterns of governance in Africa.

 

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Course Spotlight: Literary Ethnography

i Nov 13th No Comments by

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.10.07 AM_0Course Description

This graduate-level methods seminar is an intensive introduction to reading and writing “new ethnographies”—what H. L. Goodall calls an “emerging, alternative style of qualitative writing” that “combines the personal and the professional, … work that may be rendered as a story …, or an account that derives rhetorical force from blurring or blending of literary genres.” Taking a discourse-centered approach to culture and to writing as a form of qualitative analysis, students will explore theories and examples of autoethnographies, autobiographies, ethnographic fiction, poetry, and drama, and literary ethnographies. Main examples will include writing by Africans and Africanists, but students working in other world areas are welcome. Important themes will include language, voice, dialogic research, transcription, and translation. The course will help students whose primary interests are in literature, languages, and second language acquisition to gain expertise in ethnographic research practices and evocative writing. Seminar meetings will involve both discussion of readings and workshopping participants’ writing.

Sample Readings

  • Galman, Sally Campbell. 2007. Shane, the Lone Ethnographer: A Beginner’s Guide to Ethnography. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
  • Gibb, Camilla. 2005. Sweetness in the Belly. Toronto: Doubleday Canada.
  • Goodall, H. Lloyd. 2000. Writing the New Ethnography. Ethnographic Alternatives 7. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.
  • Stoller, Paul, and Cheryl Olkes. 1987. In Sorcery’s Shadow: A Memoir of Apprenticeship among the Songhay of Niger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Enrollment details

African Languages and Literature 925: Seminary in Field Methods in African Languages and Literature – Literary Ethnography
3 credits
T 2:25-5:25pm, 849 Van Hise Hall
Spring 2016

About the Instructor

Katrina Daly Thompson is an associate professor in African Languages and Literature. She specializes in linguistic ethnography and discourse analysis, and has conducted research in Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

 

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Course Spotlight: Health, Healing, and Science in Africa

i Nov 13th No Comments by

Image of mapCourse Description

Theoretical perspectives from Science and Technology Studies have become increasingly influential in the study of health in Africa in recent years. The scholarly turn toward bio-politics and the examination of vernacular science has challenged the relevance of deeply embedded polarities – traditional versus modern, African healing versus biomedicine – that have long inspired studies of medicine and illness in Africa. The result of these intellectual transformations is that the study of health in Africa is at a particularly vibrant and capacious moment. New frontiers of research and inquiry are developing as a result of conversations among humanists, scientists, and social scientists. This course will examine the historical and anthropological literature on health and disease in Africa, and explore the possibilities and potential pitfalls of deeper engagement by scholars in these fields with those working on the history of science and medicine and beyond. Students will also examine the ways in which different historical perspectives inform and transform our understanding of contemporary developments, such as the emergence of medical humanitarianism and the flourishing of health-related-non-governmental organizations in the Global South.

This seminar coincides with “Big Stories and Close (Up) Research: Health and Science in the African World,” an international conference that will take place at UW-Madison on April 15-16.  As part of the seminar, students will have the opportunity to attend the conference and interact with the presenters, many of whose work we will read over the course of the semester.

Enrollment Details

African Languages and Literature 983: Interdepartmental Seminar in African Studies – Health, Healing, and Science in Africa
3 credits
T 1:20-3:15pm, 1323 Sterling Hall
Spring 2016

This course is cross-listed with African Languages and Literature, Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, and Political Science. 

About the Instructors

Neil Kodesh is a historian of East Africa with a particular emphasis on the Great Lakes region. His research and teaching interests center on health and healing, historical anthropology, and methodologies for writing early African history. His first book, Beyond the Royal Gaze: Clanship and Public Healing in Buganda, won the Melville Herskovits Prize of the African Studies Association. Kodesh’s current project examines the history of medical pluralism in the Great Lakes region.

Claire Wendland is a medical anthropologist whose work focuses on the globalization of biomedicine, particularly in Africa.  Her first book, A Heart for the Work: Journeys through an African Medical School, explores the experiences of medical students learning to be doctors in Malawi, and argues that their responses challenge several longstanding assumptions about biomedicine and about African healing.  Wendland’s current research project looks at changing concepts and loci of risk in childbirth in southeast Africa.

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Course Spotlight: Dissident Women Voices from the Middle East and North Africa

i Nov 9th No Comments by

nossery-imageCourse Description

If dissidence is broadly defined as a manifest opposition with an established institution, dogma, genre or tradition, it also implies innovation and originality. The legacies of colonialism, the repressive nature of post-independence regimes, and the continuance of patriarchal apparatuses have prompted women to constantly find new means to cope with political, religious, and social despairs. These obstacles in the way of women’s empowerment could not quell the voices of artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, scholars, and other dissidents who ceaselessly work to disseminate alternate and alternative perspectives on themes such as nation, patriarchy, sexuality, identity, and agency, to name but a few. This course examines various instances of the nexus of nation, patriarchy, agency and women and how it is configured in literature and visual art. It will also focus on the ways in which women in the MENA region have broken conventional artistic molds through creative forms and contents, representing Arab world in its gendered diversity.

Course Objectives

  • To introduce students to the complex contemporary history of MENA, in order to engage with its diversity through a critical examination of women’s voices.
  • To foster the students’ critical thinking skills as they perform close readings of literary texts; interpret and analyze works of art, historical images, songs and movies; and analyze sociological and historical phenomena with rigor and depth.
  • To introduce students to comparison of genres, disciplines, and contexts.

Sample Readings

  • Literary works: Etel Adnan. Sitt Marie Rose (Lebanon); Malika Mokeddem, The Forbidden Woman (Algeria); Fatima Mernissi, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood (Morocco);  Mona Prince, My Name is Revolution (Egypt).
  • Movies, music and art: Assia Djebar, The Nouba of the women of Mount Chenoua (movie); Lalla Essaydi (polyvalent artist); Umm Kalthum (singer); Moufida Tlatli, The Silence of the Palace (movie)
  • Theoretical and critical works: Nawal El Saadawi, The Hidden Face of Eve; Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam; Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety; Dabashi, Hamid, The Arab Spring; Brinda Mehta, Rituals of Memory in Contemporary Arab Women’s Writing; Valentine Moghadam, Modernizing Women; Margot Badran, Feminists, Islam, and Nation.

Enrollment details

African Languages and Literature 300: Dissident Women Voices from the Middle East and North Africa
3 credits
T/TH 11:00-12:15pm, 254 Van Hise Hall
Spring 2016

About the Instructor

Névine El Nossery is Associate Professor in the departments of French and Italian and African Languages and Literature. Her research interests and teaching include North African and French Canadian literatures, Francophone Studies, women writing, photo-texts, graffiti, trauma fiction, and Middle-Eastern literature and culture.

 

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Course Spotlight: Seminar in Modern African Literature – Melodrama

i Nov 9th No Comments by

mourning-700Course Description

This course explores the epistemological foundations and critical applications of the concept of melodrama, with particular emphasis on African literature and screen media. In ways that are increasingly amenable to cultural studies analysis, melodrama has attracted a body of theory paying simultaneous and innovative attention to the formal, historical, and political properties and production of texts. It also calls attention to disciplinary traditions of reading. From Peter Brooks’s work on Balzac and Henry James, to recent scholarship on Nigeria’s “Nollywood” and Pentecostal television in the Congo, melodrama is being used to understand the ways, both formal and thematic, that texts respond to and register major social transformations. Readings in this course will come from these and other contexts, including samples of scholarship on Latin American, South Asian, and East Asian cultural production. Graduate students from any discipline are welcome in this seminar and invited to pursue their research through the course focus. At stake in our exploration of these critical traditions are (often competing) conceptions of modernity and the role that such conceptions can play in the kind of reading we do.

Course Objectives

Students will form a foundation understanding of melodrama theory, through various global examples of secondary sources and through focused attention on selected primary and secondary material from Africa. Through weekly discussion and formal reading responses, students will also advance their skills for interpreting, applying, and generating literary and critical cultural theory. Finally, students will further hone and demonstrate their scholarly proficiency by submitting and workshopping advanced-level seminar papers, focused on forms of cultural production of their choosing, in which methods of melodrama theory are applied and elaborated.

Sample Readings

  • Lila Abu Lughod: “Modern Subjects? Egyptian Melodrama and Postcolonial Difference”
  • Peter Brooks: Selections from The Melodramatic Imagination
  • Brian Larkin: “Extravagant Aesthetics: Instability and the Excessive World of Nigerian Film”
  • Buchi Emecheta: The Joys of Motherhood
  • Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Devil on the Cross
  • Christine Gledhill: “The Melodramatic Field: An Investigation”
  • Katrien Pype: The Making of the Postcolonial Melodrama

Enrollment details

African Languages and Literature 901: Seminar in Modern African Literature – Melodrama
3 credits
M 1:20-3:15pm, 1051 Van Hise Hall
Spring 2016

About the Instructor

Matthew H. Brown is Assistant Professor of African Languages and Literature. He is a specialist of African screen media, with a focus on “Nollywood,” Nigeria’s video film industry, but he also writes about television, literature, and popular music. He is also the co-founder of the UW-Madison workshop on Mass Media and Popular Culture in the Global South. Brown’s current book project is tentatively titled Indirect Subjects: Nollywood, the Nation, and Neoliberalization.

 

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