SHE Level 2
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3L324903
Module Leader Naveed Hakeem
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Sociology
  • A (September start)
  • B (January start)
  • C (May start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Normally, the successful completion of African Studies 2 or equivalent.

Summary of Content

Do Africans themselves see the continent as homogenous? If so, how? If not, why not? Which circumstances facilitate recognition of continental diversity and which lead towards a reification of certain identities? How do Africans construct their geographical, political, social, environmental and economic realities and relationships with others (both African and non-African), and are these in any way different to the construction of other regional identities? How does this change over time and space? How do Africans negotiate between indigenous and received knowledge, at times co-opting elements of each and blending them to form new knowledges? What have the effects been of decolonial knowledge movements on these processes? In addition to exploring these questions, students will be required to engage with non-textual knowledge in order to deepen their understandings of localized systems of thought, history, and practice. These systems often frame awarenesses of and on the continent, but due to their non-textual nature are largely absent from academic discourses and documentation.


Week 1: African Knowledge This week we look at what constitutes 'African' knowledge from family histories through to national epistemologies, ideologies and structures of publication and dissemination. We interrogate what, if anything makes knowledge 'African' versus non-African and establish the core questions that the course will explore. Week 2: Oral and rock art histories Here we focus specifically on oral and rock art histories as both a practice of knowledge production and dissemination on the continent, and as a research tool. Week 3: Polities and Governance Exploration of major polities and styles of governance in pre-colonial period that is essential for making sense of African realities today (e.g. understanding North-South Sudanese relationships in terms of Nuer / Dinka histories), expansion of the Zulu empire, etc. Week 4: Exchange Focus on trade and 'the gift' (Mauss) in the context of Africa. What have been the major trade regions of the continent and how have these continued to influence both trade and ideas of exchange today? Are there 'indigenous' models of exchange that inform African identities and care and what are the implications of these for contemporary citizens (i.e. ubuntu and black tax in South African context). Week 5: Class and Social Stratification How are societies across Africa divided in terms of class and social stratification? This week we focus on divisions of labour and power in pre-colonial times, contrasting this with African realities under socialism and in the pot-independence period. Week 6: Kinship, Ethnicity, Race Kinship, Ethnicity, and Race are all salient markers in much of Africa today. This week we engage and contrast various understandings of belonging and externality that are constituted through personal identities, both born and acquired. Week 7: Gender Gender and gender roles vary significantly across Africa. The purpose of this week is to interrogate how and with what repercussions gender has been understood and enculturated, focusing particular attention on categories that do not conform to binary expectations that became standardized in many places in the 20th century. We link this to contemporary debates on gay rights and civil freedoms. Week 8: Language How do linguistic identities continue to inform identity and everyday life across Africa today? Here, we consider the role of language across a variety of sectors, from ethnic marker to tool of global trade. Engaging Ngugi Wa Thiongo's arguments pertaining to decolonization, we consider how people across Africa make choices of language and linguistic instruction as they position themselves as both local and global citizens. Week 9: Religion Religion has consistently been a core component of both 'Eastern' and 'Western' engagements with Africa. Islam, Christianity, and to a lesser extent other 'world' religions continue to engage with long-rooted systems of belief and symbolism that inform the manifestation of power across the continent. Here, we explore the role of belief and religion. Week 10: Food How are contemporary realities shaped by food? This week engages food from political, economic, and cultural perspectives, to explore how that which is eaten becomes a powerful symbol of global and local positionality. As a class, we consider the rich meanings of Pan-African cuisine, and engage in feasting. Week 11: Beauty and Aesthetics In the final week of coursework, we focus on representation, aesthetics, beauty, and art. We probe what it means to represent Africa in the 21st century, and analyze the multi-textual histories that inform contemporary representation and messaging. Week 12: Revision Revision and preparation of final assignment.

Learning Outcomes

1 Learning OutcomesBy the end of the module, students should be able to:1. Continuing the work of the previous African Studies module, engage 'Africa' as both a geographic reality and a construct of imaginative and political processes that have emerged over time and are subject to change. 2. Through attention to the ways in which diverse African political and social structures have engaged with one another, with transnational ties, and with contemporary cross-border challenges (e.g. the Ebola outbreak of 2014) explore internally-produced systems of societal management. 3. Using artifacts, recipes, bodily habitudes and oral histories, explore the constitution of self-awareness as received through their own diverse cultural upbringings, and examine how these impact upon knowledge production and experience in ways that might otherwise be academically invisible.4. Articulate the role that Africa plays in global geo-politics, and the real and imagined opportunities and challenges that come with affiliation with, for example, the AU (African Union).5. Examine how regionalism both opens and forecloses certain identities, political freedoms, and economic opportunities, and how entities such as SADC, ECOWAS and others have emerged against the context of the Berlin Conference, the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, Lusofonia, etc.6. Interrogate their abilities to participate in localized discourses and community based solutions to problems, analyzing how social mobility, internationalism, class, education, and the resulting changes in practice and way of being complicate notions of home, community, and the continent writ large.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

This module features weekly class sessions that require preparation and follow-up applications afterwards. Pre-class preparation will introduce students to the main content for the week and require students to engage with key texts and other resources in an effort to build a foundational understanding of the concepts. Class sessions aim to clarify understanding and allow for clarification and questioning of major concepts and application of concepts to specific case studies. Finally, follow-up applications will require students to examine the week's topic with regard to their home countries/countries of interest, with particular focus on the how concepts discussed manifest themselves in diverse contexts. Written weekly reponses to key readings will also form the basis of the coursework of the module. Students will be expected to submit 10 draft reading responses on a weekly basis for formative feedback. Revised reading responses will be submitted as a summative assessment in the form of a portfolio in week 12.

Indicative Reading

Arnold, A. J. (1981). Modernism and Negritude: The Poetry and Poetics of Aime9 Ce9saire . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Be2, S. W. (1973). The Concept of Negritude in the Poetry of Le9opold Se9dar Senghor . Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Bayart, J. (2009). The State in Africa: The Politics of The Belly . 2nd ed. Cambridge: Polity. Biko, S. and Stubbs Aelred., (2002). I Write What I Like . 1st ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Comaroff J. L. and J. Comaroff (2009). Ethnicity, Inc . University of Chicago Press. Fanon, F. (1968). The Wretched of the Earth . 1st ed. Grove Press. Fenrich, J., Galizzi, P. and Higgins, T., eds., (2011). The Future of African Customary Law . 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kane, Ousmane. (2017) Beyond Timbuktu: an Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa . Boston: Harvard University Press Mahmood, S. (2011). Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject . 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Maus, M. (2000) The Gift . London: Routledge Mbembe, A. (2001). On the Postcolony . 1st ed. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. Mbembe, A (2017) Critique of Black Reason . Durham: Duke University Press Mernissi, F. (1975). Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society . 1st ed. London: Saqi Books. Mints, S. and C. Dubois (2002) 'The Anthropology of Food and Eating' Cultural Review of Anthropology 31 99-119 Mernissi, F. (1992): The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Islam . New York: Basic Books. Nuttal, S (2010) Beautiful Ugly . Durham: Duke University Press Scott, J. (2008). Seeing Like a State . 1st ed. New Haven, CN: Yale University. Press. wa Thiong?o, N. (1986). Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature . 1st ed. London: J. Currey. Vaillant, J., (1990), Black, French, and African. A Life of Le9opold Se9dar Senghor . Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: Harvard University Press. Vansina, J (1985) Oral Tradition as History Madison . University of Wisconsin Press Wainaina, B. (2011). How to write about Africa . 1st ed. Nairobi: Kwani Trust. Available at:<>. Accessed on 20th February 2017. (1980), Unesco Publications: General History of Africa . Museum International, 32: 235-236. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0033.1980.tb01934.x

Transferrable Skills

By the end of this module students will have gained competence in the following key areas: ? Carrying out assignments and effectively organising time ? Developing written and oral communication skills ? Enhancing IT skills ? Enhancing critical thinking and analytical skills ? Advanced reading and writing skills ? Non-textual representational abilities (cooking and art)

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (FT) 12.00
Assessment (FT) 40.00
Seminars (FT) 24.00
Independent Learning (FT) 124.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam 01 2.00 50.00 n/a Unseen written exam
Course Work 01 n/a 50.00 n/a Portfolio, 2500 words