Assistant Professor of African Studies
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 introduces 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. In this class, we ask: What is a tourist? How do hosts feel about tourists? Why do people travel for leisure to Africa? Does tourism help or hinder African development? What does the study of travel and tourism in Africa tell us about the world in which we live? Engaging with ethnographies, our approach will explore the various forms of tourism: safaris, adventure tourism, eco-tourism, dark tourism, slum tourism, roots tourism or pilgrimage, volunteerism and study abroad, romance and sex tourism, medical tourism and touring poverty. Examining relations between 'hosts' and 'guests' - tour operators, guides, 'experts', tourists and local populations - we will focus on the possibilities, problems and challenges presented by tourism in North, South, Central, East and West Africa. We will investigate the historical, political, economic, social and cultural contexts in which African countries, communities, and individuals articulate and sell notions of the 'Other', 'exotic', 'tradition', 'authenticity' and 'indigeneity', as well as the ways the 'tourist gaze' produces and reproduces notions of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and desire. We will also consider regional and domestic tourism, including the reasons why African tourists rarely visit their own country, and the 'post-tourist', namely, the idea physical travel can be replaced by the virtual. Students will be asked to reflect upon and theorize their own tourist experiences.
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. We will focus on the major themes, ideas and debates shaping the theoretical and methodological frameworks for studying cultural heritage. We will learn the ways in which colonialism, nationalism, apartheid, conflict and independence and impact cultural heritage. We will also critically examine contemporary possibilities, problems and challenges presented by cultural tourism, development, international law, war and illicit trafficking. 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.
Too often 'Western' historical narratives consider Africans and African Diasporans as 'People Without History'. Such a notion also refers to people who possess few or no formally written histories. Employing historical archaeology, this class examines the material traces individuals and communities in the past left behind as important, alternative historical resources for interrogating the European colonial library, and re-writing the histories of slavery and the slave trade. Excavating the "hidden histories" of Africans and African diasporans, free and enslaved, our aim is to insert the voices of those marginalized, silenced and erased. This course focuses on the major themes and questions in the historical archaeology of the Africana experience, on both sides of the Atlantic, in Africa and the Diaspora. Throughout this course we will adopt an interpretive approach that draws upon the use of 'words and things' (objects, texts and oral narratives), exploring the connections and influences between Atlantic Africa and the Diaspora.
This course is an introduction to African art and material culture. In this class, we will focus on the major themes, ideas and debates that have shaped and continue to shape the theoretical and methodological frameworks for the studying and representation of African objects. In this class, our goal is to engage with the possibilities, problems and challenges presented by art historical, anthropological, archaeological and material culture approaches to African objects. This class examines African objects' pivotal role, within and external to the African continent under imperialism, colonialism and nationalism, particularly in light of collecting, museums, heritage,development and human rights. We will pay close attention to the ways in which African objects have been categorized, interpreted and displayed exploring issues such history, economics, politics and identity. We will also examine the politics and practical aspects of contemporary African cultural heritage practice by engaging with some of the associated controversies and ethical responsibilities. We consider questions such as: How did African objects arrive into nineteenth century European museums? What is the relationship between African material culture and the colonial imagination? And, how has this relationship between objects and the "invention of Africa" changed over time? Who "owns" African art? How do we work with African artifacts given international codes and conventions, yet also respect local, communal and indigenous rights?