This course explores the emergence of cities in sub-Saharan Africa, and traces major themes in the history of urban Africa. By looking at the creative adaptations of urban Africans in work, leisure, popular culture, politics, conflict, gender, generation, and race, we will attempt to answer a number of questions: When and how did the city emerge in Africa? How African is the city? What do African cities look like? How have urban Africans responded to the dramatic historical changes and intense cultural interactions of African history (e.g. colonialism, industrialization, urbanization, globalization)? In answering these questions, we will pay attention to the work of African innovators and entrepreneurs, who made meaningful lives in the city on their own terms
Students who enroll in the course will travel to Accra, Ghana, as part of a 4-week study abroad program. There we will do collective readings, engage in class discussions, take trips to Accra and other cities in southern Ghana, and conduct research throughout the city with Ghanaian and American partners. You will come away from the class with more than a cool trip (though it will be that) and a research paper. You will learn how to conduct fieldwork and can use those experiences to explore your own areas of interest – entrepreneurship, engineering, public health, computer science, performing and visual arts, history, journalism, political science, and countless other fields. Your work will go up on the web as part of this class blog, a bigger digital humanities project, and your own website, giving your work a much bigger audience and allowing you much more flexibility in presenting and organizing your research. Students are encouraged to use digital technologies and social media to fully explore Accra’s history and culture. Our goal isn’t to come to conclusions. Our goal is to learn to contextualize the questions. Spend time thinking about what you’re interested in and why it matters. Be curious, explore, and learn.
Students from all fields and backgrounds are encouraged to apply! There are no course pre-requisites. Students are required to apply to the course. Go here to learn more about the application requirements or attend one of the special information sessions scheduled this semester.