Course No: POLI.2150-081; SIS Class Nbr: 3155; SIS Term: 3040
Course Status: Open
The images of Africa most commonly seen in the US flood our minds with inconsistent messages. Africa is portrayed and discussed as a locus of ancient tribal conflicts, disease, famine, and suffering. While struggles do occur - just as they do in all places - understanding the diverse experiences of the peoples of Africa requires engagement with the cultures, politics, religions, and perspectives of people in more than fifty countries across a vast continent. While such engagement can hardly be accomplished in a semester, we will attempt to scratch at the surface in different ways that reveal ideas, experiences, and thoughts that reflect political life and culture in Africa south of the Sahara in a more reflective manner. Throughout this course, I challenge you to remember that politics as we usually conceive them - the policies, programs, and posturing of government and public organizations - are a backdrop to the way real people live their lives every day. Policies and political systems are less important for the fact that they exist than for the ways in which they affect the lives of those they govern. With this approach, I hope we will be able to pick apart government structures, political organizations, and policy issues in ways that will shed light on the construction and culture of African politics. This requires a focus on power - who has it, how they use it, and to what ends.
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