This course is an introduction to the politics of heritage. Heritage sites, monuments and museums are frequently sites of controversy, as various groups with different and often conflicting experiences contest interpretations of the past. This seminar adopts a global approach to heritage. We will focus on the major themes, ideas and debates shaping the theoretical and methodological frameworks for studying heritage. We will learn the ways in which colonialism and nationalism impact heritage in the past. We will also critically examine contemporary possibilities, problems and challenges presented by tourism, development, international law and illicit trafficking on heritage. Through a series of case studies we will examine the historical, political, social and cultural contexts in which nations, communities and individuals assert their rights through heritage.
Lions and Maasai, elephants and Bushmen, camels and Tuareg - Africa is seen as the continent of colorful cultures, picturesque people and thatched huts. This course seeks to introduce students to some of the key themes and debates in the anthropology of tourism, exploring the commodification of culture and nature in Africa as objects with marketable value. We will examine the historical, political, social and cultural contexts in which African countries, communities, and individuals articulate and sell notions of the "exotic", "tradition", "authenticity" and "indigeneity". Engaging with ethnographies we will examine the various forms of tourism: safaris, volunteerism, adventure tourism, eco-tourism, roots tourism or pilgrimage, romance and sex tourism. Examining relations between 'hosts' and 'guests' - brokers, tour operators, guides, 'experts', tourists and local populations - we will focus on the possibilities, problems and challenges presented by tourism in North, South, East and West Africa. Paying close attention to the ways in which the 'tourist gaze' produces and reproduces notions of race, class, gender, sexuality and desire, students will be asked to reflect upon and theorize their own tourist experiences. We will also discuss internal tourism, namely the reasons why when Africans become tourists, they rarely visit their own country.
What is the connection between the consumption of colonial postcards in Senegal, cosmetic products in Zimbabwe, African-American bric-a-brac during segregation, second-hand clothing in Zambia, Coca-Cola in Trinidad, and African art in New York? This course examines two central themes for material culture studies: commodities and consumption. Consumption is a process that enables people to reproduce themselves as social beings, as well as the maintenance and reproduction of social relationships, giving commodities 'value'. This course adopts an historical approach, tracing the evolution of the study of commodities and consumption in Africa and the African Diaspora. How does object consumption take on new meanings in different historical, political, social and economic contexts? How does the consumption of objects document ties spanning the seemingly remote into the global community? What is the relationship between consumption, commodities and identity? Adopting approaches from the disciplines of history, archaeology, anthropology and material culture studies, we explore the consumption of commodities as a politicized process addressing issues such as colonialism, globalization, citizenship, race, ethnicity, class, gender, power and inequality.
This course explores Islam, the slave trade and slavery in Africa. The slave trade and slavery is an often-unacknowledged tradition in the 'Islamic world'. We will begin by examining Qur'anic and Islamic jurisprudence regarding slavery. Then, against the backdrop of slavery in early Islamic empires, we will proceed to slavery in East, West and Southern Africa, and the African Diaspora. Including readings from archaeology, history and anthropology, the course will explore the ways in which local interpretations of Islam influenced understandings of slavery by situating them within specific historical, political, socio-cultural and geographic locales. Examining the connections between Islam and slavery, and more specifically, labor, rebellion and manumission, we will also explore the role of the enslaved as rulers, soldiers and concubines. In addition, we will enrich our understandings of Islam and contemporary slavery in Africa.
This class is an introduction to African art and material culture. We will examine the pivotal role of African objects in Africa, as well as Europe and the United States, alongside the projects of imperialism, colonialism, apartheid and nationalism in light of collecting practices, museums, heritage tourism, development and human rights. We will also examine the politics and practical aspects of African art and artifacts by engaging with some of the associated controversies and ethical responsibilities. Students will work with a selection of artifacts and establish creative strategies for developing an African art exhibition.
Too often 'Western' historical narratives consider Africans and African Diasporans as 'People Without History'. Such a notion refers to peoples who cultures do not, or possess few formally written histories. This class employs archaeological evidence in order to investigate histories of imperialism, colonialism, genocide, slavery, resistance and black nationalism, dismantling the colonial library by exploring local histories once marginalized, silenced and erased.
Assistant Professor of African Studies
Mail Code SS
Franklin Patterson Hall
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002