Located in the historic Churchill House on the campus of Brown University, the Department of Africana Studies is the intellectual center for faculty and students interested in the artistic, historical, literary, and theoretical expressions of the various cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. Central to the intellectual work of the department is the close collaboration of artists and scholars in examining relationships between academic and artistic knowledge about the world and human experience. Our commitment to rigorous scholarship and robust student and community development is grounded in a truly global understanding of the reach and implications of the Africana World.
For additional information, please visit the department's website: http://brown.edu/Departments/Africana_Studies/
AFRI 0090. An Introduction to Africana Studies.
This course introduces students to the vibrant and contested field of Africana Studies by critically exploring and analyzing the links and disjunctures in the cultural, political, and intellectual practices and experiences of people of African descent throughout the African diaspora. Beginning with a critical overview of the history, theoretical orientations, and multiple methodological strategies of the discipline, the course is divided into three thematic units that examine intellectuals, politics, and movements; identity construction and formation; and literary, cultural, and aesthetic theories and practices in the African diaspora.
AFRI 0110B. The Last Professors.
Addresses the profound effects of contemporary economic, political, and social changes on the role and function of the university in the 21st century. A primary concern of the seminar is to critically analyze how and in what ways the transformations in the broader society challengs, constrain, and, at times, frustrate critical intellectual activity. The seminar will draw on a broad and diverse set of readings ranging from classic statements by Cardinal Newman and W.E.B. DuBois to contemporary critical analyses by Henry Giroux and Adolph Reed, Jr. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
AFRI 0110C. Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement.
Most of the rich written history of the civil rights movement originates from first-hand accounts documented in oral histories and autobiographies. This interdisciplinary course plots the milestones of the civil rights movement through the lens of several autobiographies. The aim is to critique autobiography as a historical document as well as use it to tell the stories of the civil rights movement. We will compare and contrast different texts, analyze content and map a history of the era. Students will work with a writing fellow to develop one critical paper and one autobiographical paper. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
AFRI 0120. Philosophy of Race and Gender.
Prejudice of many kinds, such as racism and sexism is so embedded in our modern social institutions, and so traditional and pervasive that we often fail to notice it. Furthermore, race and gender have been used repeatedly to explain differences. This course is a rigorous examination of the philosophical meanings of race and gender, from a variety of historical, anthropological and feminists perspectives.
AFRI 0160. Twentieth-Century Africa.
An introduction to recent African history, the course combines chronological and topical approaches. It is organized around the major epochs of colonialism, decolonization and post-colonial independence, but within those periods, we will concentrate on themes such as health, environment, development, the state and artistic expression. Readings draw heavily on primary sources. Three exams and two projects, including group work.
AFRI 0170. Afro-American History and Society Before 1800.
Focuses on the history of Africans and persons of African decent in the part of North America that now constitutes the U.S. Centers on the 18th century, but gives some attention to the 17th and 19th centuries as well. Most of the readings are devoted to the English colonies, but some concern themselves with Dutch, French, and Spanish settlements.
AFRI 0190. Caribbean History and Society Before 1800.
Examines some of the themes important in the multiracial societies of the Caribbean from the 17th through the early years of the 19th century. Explores Creole societies, plantation economies, ethnicity, maroon societies, class and racial divisions, acculturation, syncretic religions, and patterns of slave resistance. Danish, Dutch, English, French, and Spanish settlements are studied.
AFRI 0200. Modern Caribbean History and Society.
This course will critically examine five themes in modern Caribbean history and society: What is the Caribbean? Nationalism, religion, economic development, and popular culture. These themes will be discussed with reference to the different geographical, racial, cultural and political spaces, which comprise the Caribbean.
AFRI 0210. Afro Latin Americans and Blackness in the Americas.
This course focuses on the position of Blacks in the national histories and societies of Latin America from slavery to the present-day. Emphasis is on a multidisciplinary engagement with issues and the exposure of students to the critical discussion of national images and realities about blackness and Africa-descended institutions and practices. The role of racial issues in national and transnational encounters and the consequences of migration of people and ideas within the hemisphere are explored.
AFRI 0220. From Emancipation to Obama: Journeys in African American History.
This course explores African American History through the lens of black freedom struggles. The struggles take all forms, between black and white from local to national levels, within and between black communities, and between men and women. This course assumes some familiarity with basic U.S. History and will utilize a variety of primary sources from autobiographical material to visual art and music as well as the usual monographs and articles. Aside from reading, students will be required to work with a writing fellow on 2 papers. There are also 2 exams.
AFRI 0280. Race, Slavery, Modernity and Knowledge.
This course will review some of the central texts that constitute the different meanings of modernity and discuss how these texts became part of our framework for thinking about modernity, the human self and its different representations. The course will also engage texts that make attempts to complicate the meanings of modernity through a set of engagements with the issues of slavery, colonialism and race. Some key words in the course are: modernity, knowledge production, double-consciousness, social construction of race, racial slavery, coloniality.
AFRI 0300. Performing Ethnography and the Politics of Culture.
This first-/second-year undergraduate seminar introduces students to the practice of fieldwork observation (ethnography) as a research method to investigate how Black culture is enacted and Black communities are formed and sustained. Regular opportunities to observe and participate in Black cultural events and institutions in and around Providence will develop students' capacity to conduct research, theorize and compose short works based on their observations through field note-taking assignments, short papers, and a final creative rendering.
AFRI 0500. Globalization, Media and Culture.
This course is designed to examine the changing global landscape and its impact on society, culture and will draw on analytical tools from the social sciences to make sense of the rapidly changing nature of global society. In the past three decades the flows of commodities, ideas, people, norms, resources across international borders has accelerated exponentially. Driving these dynamics are not only market forces, but also the media, social networks, cultural diffusions, institutional transformations. This course focuses on the social structures, institutional and organizational forms, political processes and cultural practices that mediate the encounter of the global and the national.
AFRI 0550. African American Health Activism from Emancipation to AIDS.
This historical survey course examines African American activism and social movements from Emancipation to the contemporary period through the lens of African American access to health resources. By paying close attention to how social and cultural aspects of medicine impact access and quality of care by race, gender, and sexuality, the course examines how segregation, poverty, incarceration, and policing shaped activism and healthcare. The course develops a sense of how African American activists crafted responses to different historical crises including Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and the War on Drugs by the demands they made for specific resources.
AFRI 0560. Psychology of the Black Experience.
This course is designed to facilitate understanding of African American psychological experiences. We begin by critically reviewing historical approaches to the psychological study of Black people. We then shift to an examination of the themes, and research currently being generated by those involved in the quest for scholarly self-definition and for redefinition of the psychological fabric of the Black experience.
AFRI 0570. 20th Century Black Feminist Thought and Practice in the U.S.
This course will explore the ways that black women in the U.S. have experienced racial and gendered discrimination as well as what sorts of strategies (e.g., political, intellectual, narrative, and creative) black women have devised in response. We will be especially concerned with elements of African-American feminist thought and its articulation in writings, music, literature and practice/activism in the 20th century U.S. Enrollment limited to 80.
AFRI 0580. Black Theology.
"In this era of Black Power... theology cannot afford to be silent." This lecture course will plumb the depths of James H. Cone's statement by critically interrogating the cultural, political, and theoretical dimensions of the development and evolution of Black Theology. The course will consider the nature and task of theology with particular reference to its contested role in American public life, the complex relation between theology, race, and radical politics, and the connections and disjunctures between Black Theology and the fields of history, literature, and philosophy.
AFRI 0600. Race, Gender, and Urban Politics.
This course will introduce students to the methods and practice of studying black urban life with a primary focus on US cities. We will critically examine the urban cultural studies debates concerned with race, gender, class and sexuality. The approach of the course will be interdisciplinary, drawing upon works from anthropology, literature, history, music, and film. Topics include tourism, immigration, poverty, popular culture, gentrification, violence, and criminalization.
AFRI 0610. Black Student Protest from Jim Crow to the Present.
This is a history-driven class about black student protest. It puts this history in direct dialogue with other kinds of student protests over the long twentieth century. The point of the class is to ground conversations about contemporary protest culture in an historical context that extends well beyond Brown, that moves into the deep history of higher education and education more generally, and that reveals the intersection of protest with other global, national, and local plotlines. It is, as well, meant to think about how all of these histories have been represented popularly and politically in the very recent past.
AFRI 0620. African-American Life in the City.
This course examines the social and cultural history of black urban communities by examining the foundation of black communities in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. We will examine how migration and the intersections of race, class, culture and gender shape life in urban places, reveal the structural forces that define black urban communities, and explore urban African-American expressive forms. Enrollment limited to 45.
AFRI 0630. Drama and War in Africa: New Voices.
This course is an historical, political and topical examination of the subject of War on the African continent as seen through the lens of artistic response. Class discussions will be based on the different Stage, Screen and Radio Dramas that will serve as course materials. We will analyze reflections by African artists and scholars on the violent conflicts that have characterized the region's recent history, as well as closely related international perspectives, such as those evident in Hotel Rwanda and The Last King of Scotland. We will also explore how political actors have used peformative techniques, and will specifically examine the ways that other members of society (especially women and children) deal with such crises. Canonical African dramatists like Fugard, Ngugi, Soyinka and Ousmane will be referred to, but emphasis will be laid upon the New Voices emerging from a range of African nations, including Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Senegal, Sudan and South Africa, that have engaged with the subject of war.
AFRI 0640. Contemporary Issues in African Politics and Culture: Thinking Africa Differently.
Using an interdisciplinary methodology this course will examine three current issues in African societies: War, Violence and Sovereignty; the Politics of Gender in the African postcolony and the meanings of History, Trauma and Public Memory in some African societies. We will undertake this examination by "thinking about Africa differently," that is by thinking about these three issues outside of the dominant set of images, tropes and ideas that have conventionally constructed a particular version of Africa.
AFRI 0660. Activist Scholarship: Research and Writing for Social Change.
How can research advance the global social justice struggle? This course will emphasize the idea that education has never been a politically neutral undertaking. Students’ research can have social impact in the university and beyond. We will engage a variety of disciplinary fields to theorize key concepts such as intersectionality of oppression and resistance, power, hegemony, social justice, and activist research. Students will be required to carry out an original research project that tackles a pressing societal problem we face today.
AFRI 0670. Global Black Radicalism.
The decade from the mid-Sixties until the mid-Seventies witnessed the rise of Black Radicalism as a global phenomenon. The emergence of Black Power in the US, Brazil and the Caribbean, the consolidation of liberation struggles in Portuguese Africa and the rise of a Black Consciousness trend in Apartheid South Africa all represent key moments. What led young activists to embrace “Black Power?” What led to the emergence of Marxist movements in Portuguese Africa? What events in the Caribbean gave ascendancy to radical tendencies? And what forces contributed to the decline of these movements? This course seeks to answer these questions.
AFRI 0690. Gospel Titans, Divas, and Dynasties.
The course will explore some of contemporary black gospel music’s most celebrated artists, as a lens into gospel music history and the challenges of commercializing religious folk music. This course will explore gospel music performance and commerce as defined by artists such as The Clark Sisters, who were recently celebrated in the biopic The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, which first aired on the Lifetime network Sunday, April 12, 2020. The course will also explore other gospel music-making families, such as The Winans, The Staples Singers, Mary Mary, and The Crouches.
AFRI 0700. Freedom Films.
"Freedom Films" is a First Year Seminar which will focus on historical documentary films related to the Southern Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. We will analyze how these films reflect, change, and inform our views of the traditional Civil Rights Movement and how some offer contrasting narratives of that movement. We will also examine how and in what ways the films accurately and adequately reflect the historical realities of the Southern Civil Rights Movement based on readings and research. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.
AFRI 0710A. Racial and Gender Politics in Contemporary Brazil.
Brazil is commonly understood as an example of a "racially democratic" nation, but as scholars have recently shown, racism permeates all aspects of Brazilian society. This course traces the development of the theorization of race, racial identity and race relations in contemporary Brazil. The approach of the course will be interdisciplinary, drawing upon works from anthropology, literature, history, music, and film. Topics will include colonialism and enslavement, nationalism, social activism and popular culture. We will also consider how Brazilian social relations differ from or conform to other racialized patterns in other nation-states in the Americas. Particular attention will be placed on the interrelationship between race, gender, class, and nation.
AFRI 0710B. Ethics of Black Power.
In his now classic text Blood in My Eye, George Jackson writes "All revolution should be love inspired". This course will plumb the depths of Jackson's remark by critically interrogating the ethical dimensions of the Black Power concept and the cultural, ideological, and political interventions influenced by the conceptual revolution. We will assess the ethical parameters of the various ideological tendencies that influenced the conceptual formulation and political articulation of Black Power including Black Nationalism, Feminism, Liberalism, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Pan-Africanism.
AFRI 0760A. Rastafari Studies.
This course will introduce students to the theoretical frameworks, methods, and practice based application of engaging with the Rastafari movement. We'll critically examine literature produced about Rastafari & the community-based activism of the movement in the context of African & African Diasporic movements from the 1930s to the present. Approach of the class is interdisciplinary and thematic, drawing upon works from Africana studies, literature, history, music, and film. Students will be able to engage with Rastafari guest speakers and read the most recent literature in Rastafari studies. Special emphasis will be placed on gendered anti-Black racism and Rastafari woman’s community activism.
AFRI 0760B. Raggae, Rastafari and Revolution.
Bob Marley in the song Revolution declares, "Revolution Reveals." Beginning from this frame this course will examine the history of Rastafari since it was formed in the late 1930s as an Afro-Caribbean religious practice. It will examine how the emergence of raggae music in Jamaica in the late 1960s mixed and then became one central ingredient of what has been called "conscious music" in the period of the flowering of anti-colonial and black radicalism in the 20th century. The course will explore how raggae music became a form of subaltern language rethinking questions of nation and history in the Caribbean and Africa.
AFRI 0830. How Structural Racism Works.
This lecture course is an exploration of structural racism: the normalized and legitimized range of policies, practices, and attitudes that routinely produce cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. With a special focus on African-Americans in the post Civil Rights Era, we will explore how structural racism “works” intersectionally and in compounded ways in housing, criminal justice, education, employment, and media. We will also consider cultural, political and social challenges to structural racism as well as the the role and impact of colorblind ideology and behavioralism as dominant countervailing explanations for racial disparities.
AFRI 0840. Monuments, History, and Memory in the United States.
This course explores public monuments in the United States and the ways in which artists and communities have negotiated history and the politics of memory and remembrance. We consider the role that public monuments play in the struggle over the experience of the past and the organization of it. We examine war memorials, civic statuary, counter-monuments, and abstract public works, including Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s The Statue of Liberty (1886), Augustus Saint-Gauden’s Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment (1897), Richmond, Virginia’s Monument Avenue (1890-1929), David Chester French’s The Lincoln Memorial (1914-1922), Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982), Alison Saar’s Swing Low: Harriet Tubman Memorial (2007), Lei Yixin’s Martin Luther King Jr. National Monument (2011), Michael Ahad’s National September 11 Memorial & Museum (2011), and the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial to Peace and Justice (2018).
AFRI 0850. The Politics of Gender in the Caribbean Novel.
This course will examine 20th Century Caribbean Literature as a genre, which poses challenges to colonialism and raises profound questions of sovereignty. It will examine how Contemporary Caribbean Literature contributes to the world of literature in general.
AFRI 0880. Hip Hop Music and Cultures.
This course will explore both the history of the emergence of Hip Hop and the heated debates that surround it: aesthetics, censorship, sexism, violence, musical theft, originality, authenticity, the politics of cross-racial exchanges, urban black nihilism, and corporate influences on culture. These debates will be framed by our consideration of urban black life, African-American cultural formations, gender, representation, technology, commodification, pleasure and politics. Enrollment limited to 200.
AFRI 0890. Narratives of Power.
Close readings and critical discussion of some of the most influential discussions of power in the past two centuries. Seeks to develop an appreciation of the complexity and elusiveness of discourses of power.
AFRI 0950. History, Literature and the Caribbean Novel.
This course examines the ways in which literature is influenced by major historical events with special reference to the literatures of the Caribbean. Students will undertake a critical examination of the fictional representation of Europe's encounter with Africa and Asia in the Americas.
AFRI 0980. Fela Kuti: African Freedom from Afrobeat to Afrobeats.
Miles Davis famously described Fela Kuti (1938-1997) as “the future of music.” Beyoncé’s attempt “to do something that sounds like Fela” saw her compose an unpublished 20-track album. Arguably Africa’s most prolific and controversial artist of the twentieth century, Fela continues to be invoked as musical genius and as icon of popular struggle. This course invites students to explore the complexities of Fela’s art and activism. We mobilize his life/work as a springboard for examining emergent debates about African identity—from postcolonial masculinity to the creative logics of African cities, from contemporary African youth culture to the gendered politics of cultural memory.
AFRI 0990. Black Lavender: Black Gay/Lesbian Plays/Dramatic Constructions in the American Theatre.
Study of plays with African-American LGBTQ+ content, primarily manuscripts, with a focus on thesis paper development. Creative writing option. Participation in the Black Lavender Experience required. Cross-listed with TAPS. Gender and Sexuality.
AFRI 1010C. Race, Gender, Ethics and Environmental Justice.
African Americans, Gender, Ethics and Environmental Justice examines the role of African Americans in the larger environmental history conversation. It utilizes a gendered lens to investigate how African American interpreted their natural surroundings and contributed to the development of 20th century American environmental consciousness. This course is reading and writing intensive.
AFRI 1020A. Black Cultural Studies.
No description available.
AFRI 1020B. Freedom in Africana Political Thought.
This course will be a comparative analysis of freedom as a central value in political thought. It will do this by comparing the knowledge and practices of freedom to slaves in the Haitian Revolution, the ideas of freedom in the Civil Rights Movement, and then finally, the conceptions of freedom in South AFrica. Enrollment limited to 30.
AFRI 1020C. The Afro-Luso-Brazilian Triangle.
Examines three historical components of the South Atlantic in terms of history, culture, and contemporary political and economic consequences. European colonialism in Africa and Brazil constitutes the baseline for this exploration, but the long and tardy nature of Portuguese colonialism in Africa in comparison with other European colonial powers, especially in its post-World War II manifestations, is our starting point. Enrollment limited to 40.
AFRI 1020D. Race, Rights and Rebellion.
Provides an in-depth examination of different kinds of social movements. Emphasis will be placed on the theoretical and methodological distinctions among the various kinds of social protests and social movement actors. From anti-slavery revolts to struggles for independence to anti-apartheid movements, key concepts will include power, resistance, subaltern, hegemony, identity politics and consciousness.
AFRI 1020E. Race and Visual Culture.
This is a sophomore seminar on race and visual media, including everything from high art on canvas to lowbrow film, from the comic book superhero Blank Panther to the Black Panther Party, from the avant-garde to the burlesque, from the web to graffiti to homemade t-shirts. People who sign up for the class should be prepared to read a lot and talk a lot, to regularly get to the RISD museum, to watch a lot of stuff on OCRA, and to maybe take a field trip or two to Boston's MFA and some similar sort of place. Curiosity is required.
AFRI 1030. Contesting the Carceral State.
This course introduces students to the study of crime and justice through Black, feminist, queer and prison abolitionist frameworks, with a particular focus on narratives by people of African descent in the U.S. since 1965.
AFRI 1040. Decolonized Bodies, Spirit Bodies: Tracing the Indigenous Knowledge of Africans.
This course is a comprehensive study of the indigenous bodies of knowledge of rituals as they permeate the wholeness of the existence of African people referencing Yoruba nation of West Africa. It will integrate visual art methods with Rites and Reason Theatre’s Research-to-Performance Method, where students will explore and trace the hidden legacies of the indigenous people of Africa in visual arts, music, dance, fashion, poetry, story-telling as a way of understanding the impacts of slavery, colonialism and decolonization of indigenous knowledge. Students will have the opportunity to study selected enduring indigenous festivals, organize and stage performance as knowledge production.
AFRI 1050A. Advanced RPM Playwriting.
Third level of RPM Playwriting; for students that have successfully completed RPM Playwriting and Intermediate RPM Playwriting (workshop). Instructor permission.
AFRI 1050B. Africana Feminism.
No description available.
AFRI 1050D. Intermediate RPM Playwriting.
Second level of RPM Playwriting; for students that want to continue developing their RPM plays or want to begin a new project (workshop).
AFRI 1050E. RPM Playwriting.
Research-to-Performance Method (RPM) Playwriting guides students through the process of developing new plays that are informed by scholarly research (workshop).
AFRI 1050G. Narrating the Radical Self.
How black women in the United States and elsewhere have written about their lives in autobiographies will be the focus of this course. We will discuss black women's use of autobiographical writing to document their own individual experiences in political movements as well as to provide key insights into how black people throughout the black diaspora have organized in recent history. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1050H. Introduction to Post-Colonial African and African Diasporic Theatre.
This class will explore plays/theatrical works and ideologies of a selected group of playwrights from Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. Exploring Culture, Creativity and Theatre practices, the course will focus on the ways in which these artists have syncretically responded to varied forms of colonization and creolization. This class will also pay attention to the Post Colonial Social and historical context that continues to impact and influence these modes of artistic production.
AFRI 1050K. Special Topics in RPM Playwriting: Playwriting Strategies From Contemporary Black Theatre.
A study of Aristotle's Poetics in relation to Dubois' four principles of black theatre and Audre Lorde's essay "The Master's Tools." What makes black theatre "black"? We will analyze plays from the 20th Century African-American canon as sites of aesthetic resistance to "normative" American Theatre; and write our own one-act plays based upon our discoveries. Prerequisite: Course is restricted to students who have taken any Africana Studies RPM Playwriting course, Theatre Arts Introduction to Playwriting, Literary Arts Intermediate or Advanced playwriting courses, or has playwriting experience.
AFRI 1050L. RPM Playwriting: Advanced and Staging.
AFRI 1050M. Roots of African American Fiction: Oral Narrative through Richard Wright.
This course will employ a variety of narrative forms -- oral folktales, WPA narratives, slave narratives, short stories by European and American writers -- will also investigate the multiple traditions of African American fiction.
AFRI 1050P. Art and Civic Engagement: Creativity/Reality.
The primary objective of this course is to learn about and reflect upon public art and communities. This course will use selected public art and artists' ideologies as a framework for exploring culture, creativity, politics and practices and focus on the ways in which these public art works and artists' responses to varied forms of internal and external operators and stimuli successfully and unsuccessfully give voice to aspects of the environment, history, culture, social justice, health, politics and the imagination. This course will also pay attention to arts organizations, government agencies, history, power relations, human resources as well as leadership and the political that continues to influence public modes of artistic production.
AFRI 1050Q. New Narratives in African American History:The Art and Craft of Poetic and Creative Non-Fiction.
This seminar examines various examples of creative and poetic non-fiction, pertaining to race and the African American experience. While touching upon historic examples and precedent, emphasis will be on contemporary works, including the genres of poetry, drama, the narrative, the memoir, the travelogue and the personal essay. The course will explore what these works offer to the knowledge, popularization and perception of black history and to the shaping of cultural dialogue on blackness and race. Enrollment limited to 25.
AFRI 1050R. The History of Afro Futurism and Black Science Fiction.
Any class called The History Of Afro Futurism and Black Science Fiction automatically begs the question – "Well, what isn't futuristic about being Black in America?" The entire history of Black America can be seen as a fundamentally futurological and science fictional enterprise – a perpetual biding on hope and struggling for change endeavor that frequently employs far flung visions of tomorrow and other more oblique speculative stratagems in pursuit of outcomes barely foreseeable in the near-present. Enrollment limited to 25.
AFRI 1050S. Comparative Slavery and Slave Revolts: Slave Rebellion in the Americas, 1725-1865.
This course explores the history of slave revolts in North and South America and the Caribbean. It examines how acts of resistance transformed the lives of enslaved Africans and their relationships with white Americans, Europeans, and free and enslaved people of African descent. We will consider in what ways geography shaped the aims of a slave rebellion, how is a successful slave revolt determined, and what are the implications of slave unrest and its aftermath in local slave societies and in the Americas? This class will focus on insurrections in Jamaica, Saint Domingue (Haiti), the United States, Cuba, and Brazil.
AFRI 1050T. Slave Resistance and Moral Order in Environmental History.
This course is designed to examine the avenues by which enslaved persons redefined and re-appropriated the natural landscapes that kept them in bondage into direct forms of cultural and political resistance during the antebellum period. We will investigate rice production in South Carolina, the Dismal Swamp, maroon societies, Negro Spirituals, and the Black Judeo-Christian ethic to understand how the natural environment and the institution of slavery shaped slave resistance in the United States. This course is reading and writing intensive.
AFRI 1050V. Rhythm and Resistance.
This course will investigate the crucial cultural and political contributions of the African Diaspora in the formation of the contemporary Americas through an analysis of the rhythms they have produced in different national settings. We will use these rhythms as a guide to understand the peoples, places and conditions under which they were created and sustained. Through classroom discussion and historical and music-analysis students will understand the relationship of these rhythms to larger issues like nationalism, migration, colonialism, globalization, the politics of sexuality, gender and race and to understand the different meanings and practices of resistance.
AFRI 1050W. Transnational Hispaniola: Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
This course will examine the historical, political, and cultural development of the island of Hispaniola, currently divided in the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In this course we will call into question popular narratives that portray Haiti and the Dominican Republic as locked in an ahistorical, continuous conflict and explore the island’s long history of Haitian-Dominican collaborations and networks. Over time, the two countries have developed different understandings of race, ethnicity, and national identity. This course will therefore engage in a comparative survey of the interwoven dynamics of race and national construction in the making of both nations.
AFRI 1050X. Slavery, Materiality, and Memorialization.
The institution of slavery ended in the Americas in the 19th century, but its official conclusion says little about the ways in which its legacies are materially present and memorialized today. This course is designed to place the material aspects of slavery in conversation with less tangible dimensions of how slavery is or isn't remembered and publicly acknowledged. Students will be introduced to the social and economic dimensions of transatlantic slavery, conduct archival research, and visit sites in the Providence area in order to inspire critical dialogue about how the material realities of slavery affect our past, present, and future.
AFRI 1060A. Africa Since 1950.
This seminar offers a survey of post-colonial African history, while probing the challenges of writing post-colonial history. Readings and discussions will focus on histories that bridge the colonial and post-colonial periods. How robust are these periods? What can historians draw from post-colonial theory? How can historical narratives account for both the colonial legacy and post-colonial dynamism. Enrollment limited to 20; instructor permission required. Students with a background in African history or contemporary African social science will be given priority. Interested students should email the professor at Nancy_Jacobs@brown.edu.
AFRI 1060C. Contemporary African Philosophy.
An examination of some of the most influential work on problems of identity and being, theology and theodicy, time and history, method and evaluation, race and racism, postcoloniality and liberation in contemporary African philosophy. Readings include the work of Anthony Appiah, Frantz Fanon, Kwame Gyekye, Pauline Hountondji, D. A. Masolo, John Mbiti, Kwame Nkrumah, Léopold Senghor, Tsenay Serequeberhan, among others.
AFRI 1060D. Harlem Renaissance.
Explores the literature, music, and art of the so-called Harlem Renaissance, within the context of broader transformations in African American and American culture and politics in the decade of the 1920s. Readings include books by Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Alain Locke, Wallace Thurman, and Claude McKay; contemporary essays, reviews and manifestoes; and recent critical studies.
AFRI 1060E. West African Writers and Political Kingdom.
Do West African writers have a role to play in the changing political landscape of their countries? An examination of the ways and means through which a select group of West African writers have dealt with issues that relate to the role of the state in the management of individual and group relations, the politics of gender, civil and military relations, and the construction of new forms of civil society. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1060F. Philosophy and Race.
This advanced seminar in Africana philosophy will examine critical texts and thinkers that articulate the problems, methods, and techniques for interrogating the interrelationships between the discourse of philosophy and modern conceptions of race. The seminar will move to consider contemporary engagements in this area by drawing on readings and thinkers from analytical, continental, feminist, marxist, and pragmatist philosophical traditions.
AFRI 1060G. Black Radical Tradition.
This advanced seminar in Africana philosophy will explore the contours of insurgent forms of Africana social and political philosophy. With a temporal focus on the twentieth century, we will concern ourselves with explicating the dominant themes, theoretical orentations, and methodological understandings that in/form constructions and articulations of the varities of Africana feminism/womanism, black nationalism, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Pan-Africanism, and radical democracy. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1060H. Racial Frontier in South African History.
This seminar will focus on racial categories in South Africa. We will explore dynamic categories of race from the 17th through 20th centuries. Topics include the relationship of race and class; racial violence; the transmission of culture and knowledge across racial boundaries; intimate relations over racial boundaries; segregation; and race and nation. We will give attention to critiquing the ways that historians have represented race and the ways that conceptions of the category have evolved within the discipline, but the emphasis will be on recent scholarship. Students will be expected to participate actively in the seminar, to write one book review, and one research paper. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1060I. Africana Philosophy of Religion.
Who, or rather, what is God to the oppressed? This advanced seminar in Africana philosophy will examine the various theories, methods, and arguments that engage perennial questions that arise when contemplating God. The seminar will focus on questions of philosophical method and theological exposition while also being critically attuned to modes of social and cultural analysis and critique, particularly those perspectives inspired by forms of critical theory, feminist theory, and Marxist theory. Limited enrollment.
AFRI 1060K. African Literature After Achebe: Emerging African Writers.
In this course we will analyze how contemporary, emerging and marginally-read African writers contest the traditional and widely-held interpretations, understanding and assumptions of African literature. We will read and think about African literature in the contemporary post-colonial and post apartheid moment in Africa. Authors discussed include Dambudzo Marechera, Zoe Wicomb and Binyavanga Wainaina, among others.
AFRI 1060L. Varieties of American Philosophical Experience.
In contrast to Pragmatist and European-oriented views of American philosophy, this course will emphasize the colonial dimensions and features of American philosophy that emerged out of the colonial soil of early America. Out of this soil sprang extended debates between Native Americans, Euro-Americans and African Americans over the legitimacy of the hegemony that Euro-Americans were establishing over increasing portions of North America. This course views American philosophy as having within it two opposing traditions that have been engaged in ongoing angry dialogues: the dominant or Prosperean tradition of Euro-Americans and the subjugated or Caliban tradition of Native Americans and African Americans.
AFRI 1060M. African Environmental History.
This seminar will be devoted to the study of the environment and power in the history of sub-Saharan Africa. The goals for this class are that you learn more about the history of Africa, about the ways that relations with the environment shaped its human history, about the construction of environmental knowledge and its repercussions, and about historical research.
This course also has an applied dimension. Eight African environmental professionals visiting Brown through the Watson Scholars of the Environment (WISE) program will also participate in the class. In their final course project, students will conduct research of use to the WISE fellows on historical cases related to their training at Brown. (For more information see http://www.watsoninstitute.org/ge/watson_scholars/).
This course qualifies as a capstone seminar in the history department. Enrollment limited to 20 students. Instructors permission required. Interested students should email the instructor at Nancy_Jacobs@brown.edu with a description of their interests and background.
AFRI 1060Q. The New Science of Race: Racial Biomedicine in the 21st Century.
This course draws on film, news media, scientific discourse, and social theory to engage biomedicine's most controversial investigations of race and the social scientific questions they have provoked. The course asks: How is contemporary science imagining, constructing, and producing knowledge about race? What are the social, political, and cultural implications of this knowledge? Students will be introduced to important science studies methods that we will apply to historical and contemporary research agendas. No prior knowledge of science or racial theory is required. Enrollment preference will be given to juniors and seniors. Limited to 20.
AFRI 1060R. Comparative Africana Literatures and Criticism.
Caribbean, African American and African literature has been called engaged literature with explicit commitments to memory, history and ways to think about the political. This course will explore a set of writers, their novels, critical essays and their practices of criticism. It will examine anti-colonial, post-colonial writers as well as African American writers who in the words of Toni Morrison, "rip that veil drawn over proceedings to terrible to relate." We will in this course read the works of George Lamming, Patrick Chamoiseau, Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Edwidge Danticat, Yvonne Vera, Zoe Wicomb and Njabulo Ndebele.
AFRI 1060T. South Africa since 1990.
South Africa transformed after 1990, but the past remains powerful. This seminar explores the endurance and erosion of the apartheid legacy, as expressed in historical and fictional narratives. We begin with transition to majority rule and continue with the administrations of Mandela, Mbeki, and Zuma, connecting the formative histories of these leaders with the changing dynamic of politics. We end with narratives about the ways that ordinary people experienced new times. The syllabus includes scholarly works in history and politics, biography, fiction and film. Two short writing assignments and a major research paper. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
AFRI 1060U. An Introduction to Africa.
Africa invokes myriad images in the global imagination. It figures in debates on the evolution of humans; in the formation of capitalism, and even as a counterpoint to discourses on human progress. This course interrogates how “Africa” gets mobilized in popular discourse in the US and beyond. How might we reconcile the idea of Africa with contemporary conditions of the African continent? We will not only examine Africa through a broad range of disciplinary perspectives; but also become familiar with social, cultural, political and economic diversity of the African continent. We will engage the disciplines of history, economics, politics, cultural studies and gender studies among others.
AFRI 1060V. Black Transnationalism.
This seminar will explore the complex dynamics of black transnationalism during the 20th century, focusing on the circulation of ideas and practices by Africans and African-descended communities; how they were contested and reconfigured as they flowed back and forth. Particular attention will be paid to some less-examined archives, interpretations and perspectives; ideas of black women activist-scholars; aesthetic practices, sonic regimes and religion; insights and experiences of those who lived diaspora. Seminar readings and discussions will introduce and "trouble" some key theoretical issues in the notion of black transnationalism, e.g. diaspora, Pan-Africanism, globality, translocalism, identity, articulation, and solidarity. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1060W. Policy, Culture and Discourse that Shape Health and Access to Healthcare.
The global discourse on health and access to healthcare are shaped by narratives that often conflate health with being about the healthcare system rather than about where we live, the policies, the politics, and narratives/discourse that shape them. Global health also tends to promote a perspective that it is about those people over there and has nothing to do with us here. This course will create a platform that ties the global to the local. We will discuss how political and cultural discourse on race, class, and gender create the conditions that allow social inequalities to thrive.
AFRI 1060X. African Development.
Course takes an interdisciplinary approach to introduce contemporary development issues in Africa. Drawing on literature from political sciences, economics, sociology and history, it explores the challenges of development in the continent since independence, as well as investigates the influences of governance, institutions, conflicts and external forces in Africa’s development trajectories. This is an applied course that would utilize both theoretical and policy analytical approaches to examine the political and socioeconomic dynamism in contemporary Africa. This course is guided by questions, such as: Why have most African countries remained underdeveloped, poor and susceptible to conflicts (many of which seem intractable)?
AFRI 1060Y. Sex, Violence and the Policing of Black Struggle.
This seminar considers some of the historical dimensions and diverse manifestations of the relationship between sex and violence across the eras of black social movement in order to inquire into the nature of a society structured in antiblackness. We consider violence, gender, sex, and freedom across an interdisciplinary terrain, dealing with problems of representation, punishment, policing, and self-determination. The real significance of iconic black lives lost to policing in recent days and years lies within this realm of sexual violence, beyond an examination of law and policing.
AFRI 1060Z. Race, Sexuality, and Mental Disability History.
This seminar investigates the fraught entanglement of mental disability with race and homosexuality beginning with late 19th Century ideas of scientific racism and the invention of the homosexual body in African American communities. By tracking changes in Psychiatry and Psychology through the 1960s and 1970s, the course examines the impact of the Civil Rights and Gay Rights movements on sustaining contemporary mental health diagnosis of "gender dysphoria" associated with Trans people. The course will further examine several approaches to queer, trans, and gay history from the fields of color critique, black feminism, and disability studies. Enrollment limit is 20.
AFRI 1065. Performing Africa.
Course engages storytelling, photography, movement as creative strategies with which to probe the idea of Africa. We'll explore historical and contemporary discourses that have shaped understandings of Africa in the West; examine the social and imaginative worlds constructed by African artists; study performative pieces that explore the multifaceted realities of what it means to be African today. Course asks students to imagine themselves as creators and curators, rather than merely consumers or critics, of African images. We'll engage the possibilities and limits of several performance strategies in appreciating a diverse continent with such a contested global image. Performance experience not required.
AFRI 1070. RPM: Traditional and Contemporary Elements of Intertribal Indigenous Theater in America.
Utilizes Rites and Reason Theater's research-to- performance method of developing new play scripts to examine the development and relationship of the colonial Euro-American art form, theatre, to its existence within the Indigenous intertribal (Native American Indian) communities in America.
AFRI 1075. Providence Housing Ecosystem, Development, Displacement and Gentrification.
This course will exam what are the influences and power dynamics that shape where we live. We will focus on Providence. From the perspective of marginalized communities often with limited power, we will consider how to change these dynamics. We will consider how government planning policies and housing speculators, impact housing stability, create value and shape the environment in which we live. We will consider the relationship-based channels which encourage social cohesion across neighborhoods and/or social disruption and upheaval caused by market-rate housing and development policies, as well as the discourse on housing and development that influence housing speculation forces.
AFRI 1080. The Life and Work of W. E. B. Du Bois.
From the publication of The Souls of Black Folk in 1903 until his death in Ghana sixty years later, W. E. B. Du Bois remained one of America's most penetrating analysts of what he called "the color line." Students read and discuss a selection of Du Bois's writings from his career as journalist, essayist, sociologist, historian, poet, political leader, and pioneering Pan-Africanist. Prerequisite: one course in AC, AF or US History.
AFRI 1085. The Black Vote: A Critical Interrogation of a Concept.
“The black vote” as a concept, simultaneously captures a truth and obscures reality. It reflects the truth that no other racial group comes close to the uniformity of Black Americans’ voting behavior within American electoral politics. Yet, it also obscures the diversity of political opinions and ideological dispositions that animate a dynamic black American public. If voting is an essential means to give citizens voice and their share in self-rule within a democracy, this course explores what it means for the stability of American democracy that the black vote does not reflect the political diversity of the black community.
AFRI 1090. Black Freedom Struggle Since 1945.
Lecture course that examines the extended history of the mass civil rights movement in the U.S. Starting at World War II, we consider the roles of the courts, the federal and state governments, organizations, local communities, individuals and various activist strategies in the ongoing struggle for African American equality, focusing on African American agency, particularly in the South, but also in Boston, Mass. Sources include photographs, documentaries, movies, letters, speeches, autobiographies, and secondary readings. Requirements: Weekly readings, documentary viewings, 4 short papers, 2 exams.
AFRI 1100A. Comparative Identity Politics in Africa.
This course is a comparative analysis of identity politics in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Africa is a heterogeneous region with ethnic and religious diversity. The course will introduce students to social identity theory and processes of identity politics and discuss how identity processes unfold in difference areas of political discourse.
AFRI 1100B. The Caribbean: Cultures, Politics, Histories and Literature.
The Caribbean archipelago has brought forth a new awareness of the region not as a fixed entity of islands as previously viewed; rather, it is a diverse group of islands that are not only geographically linked but share a common history of slavery and colonialism. This course aims to present students with an opportunity to delve into substantive multidisciplinary (social science and literary) texts that seek to analyze, expose and deconstruct forces that continue to shape the Caribbean.
AFRI 1100C. Racial Slavery and Empire in an Age of Global Capital.
This course challenges students to think critically about the interrelations between global capital, racial slavery, and imperialism in historical perspective. We will focus particularly on the 19th century with readings addressing the British and U.S. imperial worlds. Centrally, the course asks students to engage with the significance of racial slavery in its economic and colonial entanglements in the making of the modern world.
AFRI 1100X. Black Speculative Fiction: World-Making and Alternative Universes, Science Fiction and Fantasy.
This class surveys the genre, including the work of George Schuyler, Nalo Hopkinson, Samuel R. Delaney, N.K. Jemison, Octavia Butler, Coslon Whitehead, and Tananarive Due, along with everything related, from comic books to album covers to filmic re-writings of canonical science fiction and fantasy works. The goal is to understand the history of the genre, its relationship to histories of anti-blackness and ideologies of black liberation, and its contributions to speculative fiction more broadly.
AFRI 1110. Voices Beneath the Veil.
VBV is an interdisciplinary exploration of African-American history and cultures through the analyses of Black authored plays from 1858 to the present. The course focuses on the development of a thesis paper, which includes an incremental re-writing process.
AFRI 1112. Contemporary African American Theatre.
This Africana Studies course moves thematically rather than chronologically through recent developments in African American theatre. It takes up core questions regarding Black aesthetics, representation, and the responsibility of theatre artists to themselves and to Black communities in the wake of the 1950-1960s Civil Rights Movement. Spanning the 1980s to the present, the course focuses on some of the most widely recognized African American theatre and performance artists and encourages students to develop their own talents as researchers, creative writers, and critical cultural producers. Pre-req: AFRI 1110: Voices Beneath the Veil or permission from the instructor.
AFRI 1120. The Folk: African American Folk Traditions and Cultural Expressions.
A research, development, and performance workshop designed to explore, examine, and articulate various folk traditions and cultural expressions of African Americans. The course examines the unique history and heritage of African Americans through the creative manifestations of their cultures, e.g., storytelling, dance, music, poetry, and style. The emphasis of the course is on creative writing and in-class performances informed by research and analysis.
AFRI 1130. Black Feminist Thought and Womanist Theology.
Examines the historical contributions and contradictions of African American protofeminists and contemporary African American feminists and womanists. Emphasizes political critiques and theological writings. Examines historical contributions to black feminist thought; contemporary intersectional analyses of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ideology; and political advocacy and religiosity in contemporary womanist theology.
AFRI 1140. Women, the State and Violence.
Examines the role of black women in 20th-century political movements, including with the turn-of-the-century antilynching campaigns, the southern civil rights movement, the black liberation movement, and contemporary educational activism for human rights. Central concerns include history of American radicalism and analyses of antiracist experiences, and the politics stemming from African American women's leadership.Prerequisites: AF 150 and/or AF 125.
AFRI 1150. Afro-Caribbean Philosophy.
An introduction to the field of Afro-Caribbean philosophy. The first half focuses on the history of the field, identifying its African background and surveying some of its major schools, such as the Afro-Christians, the poeticists, the historicists, and existentialists. The second half consists of a more intensive comparative focus on the ontologies and epistemologies of two of these schools.
AFRI 1160. Public Health in Africa: History, Politics, and Practice.
Examines the ways in which medical knowledge has been produced in sub-Saharan Africa. Treats all medical discourses and practices-including biomedicine and "indigenous" and pluralist medicines-as culturally-based systems of knowledge production. Explores the political economy of health and disease and the role of medicine and medical practices (hygiene, epidemiology, demography) in producing and maintaining power in both the colonial and postcolonial periods.
AFRI 1170. African American Women's History.
Recovers black women's history and renegotiates American history. Throughout the seminar, discussions will analyze the various tensions that complicate black women's lives, from accommodation to resistance, or gender issues versus racial issues, or the class tensions that pervade the African American community. Through the series of readings loosely hinged around themes and concepts, students will gain knowledge and understanding of the rich social, intellectual, political and economic networks and activities that African American women undertook on a daily basis in order to survive, progress and uplift. The course encourages the development of a broader and more comprehensive grasp of the complexities American, racial and gender histories. Must have taken at least one Women's History course and one U.S. history course. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1180. Visual Cultures of the Afro-Americas.
This course will examine how the visual modalities of power operate to ascribe, authenticate, and contest meaning within the Afro-Americas, understood here to include Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latin American and African-American cultures. We will query the complex histories and technologies that constitute the social life of vision in the Afro-Americas, while cognizant of the fact that the field of visuality cannot be understood from single point of view. We will consider images made of and images made by peoples of African descent throughout the Americas as we attend to the reception, interpretation and reproduction of images, as well fields of invisibility. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
AFRI 1190. Haiti: A New World, A Free World.
Course examines the dual Haitian Revolution as a pivotal moment in the making of the modern world. It reviews the various historical interpretations of Haitian events, examines how these events contribute to or troubles our ideas about modern politics and notions of freedom as well as our conceptions of revolution. Course engages in these issues by working through three archives: Vodou Religion; The Art of the Revolution and the conventional historiography about the revolution, and will be tied to a joint Brown/RISD exhibition on Haitian Art. Enrollment limited to 15 juniors/seniors concentrating in Africana Studies, Visual Art, History; 15 RISD students.
AFRI 1190A. Framing Haiti: History, Culture, Politics + Literature.
In broadest terms, the objective of this multidisciplinary course will be to introduce students to the varied “nature” of the Haitian society and its fluid and dynamic culture, and then attempt to make historical and socio-anthropological sense of the country in relation to the region as a whole (particularly to the United States and Dominican Republic). Throughout the course we will discuss the dynamics of power in the realm of governance, with particular emphasis placed on the notion of struggle for sovereignty and the culture of resistance (through the arts) that forms the fundamental character of the national culture.
AFRI 1200. Gospel Music from the Church to the Streets.
Black gospel music has informed popular music artists including Beyoncé, Elvis, and Chance the Rapper. This course surveys African American gospel music as it is implemented for worship, evangelism, and popular consumption. Beyond analysis of key musical and lyrical characteristics of gospel, this class gives attention to the religious and sociocultural contexts that inform gospel composition and performance. Gospel music is integrally connected to the worship traditions of black American Pentecostals, Baptists, and Methodists. Consequently, this course is also a musical introduction to African American Christianity. Classes include interactive demonstrations in addition to discussion of audio/video recordings and required texts.
AFRI 1210. Afro-Brazilians and the Brazilian Polity.
Explores the history and present-day conditions of Afro-Brazilians, looking specifically at the uses of Africana in contemporary Brazil, political and cultural movements among Afro-Brazilians, domestic politics and its external dimensions, and Brazilian race relations within a global comparative framework. Texts from a variety of disciplines. A reading knowledge of Portuguese is not required but students so advantaged should inform the instructor.
AFRI 1230. Black Protest Music.
This courses surveys African American protest music through research and performance. At every point in American history, African Americans have crafted music to speak out against racial injustices. This course highlights the music of three specific moments in African American history: 1) spirituals of the enslaved; 2) music of the classical phase of the Civil Rights movement; and 3) burgeoning protest music of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Students study the sociocultural contexts informing the performances of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Kendrick Lamar, and Beyoncé, among others. Students gain critical analytical skills for engaging music as cultural production, commodity, and vehicle of activism. Ultimately, this course equips students to situate BLM music within the longer history of African American musical activism, and it provides space for students to perform and compose black protest music.
AFRI 1250. Women in the Civil Rights Movement.
This seminar focuses on women in the civil rights movements, spanning the years of 1955-1968. This course examines issues of gender, race, sexuality, social protest, nonviolent civil disobedience and self-defense during the height of activism against apartheid in the United States and for civil rights.
AFRI 1260. The Organizing Tradition of the Southern Civil Rights Movement.
This seminar aims to fill in some of the gaps of the official canon by emphasizing that the modern (1954-1966) southern civil rights movement was not as it is mainly portrayed, a movement of mass protest in public spaces led by charismatic leaders; but rather, a movement of grassroots community organizing - quiet day-to-day work. Enrollment limited to 40.
AFRI 1275. Memory, Movements, and Mississippi.
This course explores the history of Mississippi through the lens of race, culture, and politics focusing on the mass of movements for civil rights to the present. Students will understand the complexities and contradictions of race, politics, and memory in the United States and have opportunities to articulate these intricacies in assignments – building communication skills for future work. Students will also advance critical reading skills and analytical writing, discussant, and oral presentation skills applicable beyond an academic setting. It accompanies the experiential component and the January trip to the state through the Bonner Program. Instructor override required.
AFRI 1280. Writing About Race in the Post Civil Rights Era.
This seminar is an explanation of the transformation of racial policies, relations and rhetorics since the end of the civil rights era in the United States. We will examine the complex ways race has remained central to US society and yet has dramatically shifted- examining terms such as: color-blind society; integration; political race, racialized (and gendered) community formation. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1330. Africana Studies Junior Seminar.
This junior seminar course is designed to support students’ growth as academic writers and will prepare them to better complete their culminating senior thesis projects. While specifically geared towards Africana Studies concentrators, the class is open to any undergraduate student who has successfully completed AFRI 0090: An Introduction to Africana Studies and at least four semesters of coursework overall towards the Bachelor’s degree. Course materials will delve deeply into the history, spaces, peoples and cultures of the African Diaspora, exploring a selection of critical writings, performance pieces, fiction and non-fiction works by leading scholars and artists.
AFRI 1360. Africana Studies: Knowledge, Texts and Methodology.
This course will explore the issues of Africana Studies as a discipline by engaging in a series of critical readings of the central texts, which laid the protocols of the discipline. The course will also raise issues of knowledge production and methodologies. This course is a senior capstone seminar. Open to all senior Africana Studies concentrators; others by instructor permission only. Enrollment limited to 25.
AFRI 1410. Africans and the West: Studies in the History of Ideas.
This course will examine the political thought of a selection of Africana thinkers from the period of slavery to the 20th century. It will examine the political thought of thinkers like, Franz Fanon, Ida B. Wells, Cugoano, CLR James, W.E.B. DuBois and Rastafari. The course will be an exploration of black radical intellectual tradition and its different meanings.
AFRI 1440. Theorizing the Black Diaspora.
This seminar will focus on the theorization of the black diaspora as a way to explore the various articulations of colonialism, gendered racism and resistance against that racism throughout African-descendant communities. Course readings will highlight the scholarship of black women who have contributed to the internationalization of radical black vis-a-vis theories of diaspora, transnationalism, transformative politics, identity formation, and community.
AFRI 1460. Tell the Story: The Afro-Diasporic Experience Through Documentary Film.
Documentary films have grown into an influential art form that has influenced politics, culture, social movements and how we see the world. They are relied on to sort out fact from fiction in an increasingly complex world where the lines continue to blur. Through film screenings, lectures, readings, critical analysis and group discussions, the course examines the changing nature of the documentary as it relates to how films documenting the Black Experience are conceived, told and distributed in different mediums. We will also look at how these films have been influenced as much by technology and ethical, social, cultural and political movements, as it has by the individual choices of the filmmakers.
AFRI 1470. Southern African History.
This course examines major themes of the history of southern Africa from the earliest times until 1994, with a heavy emphasis on historiographical debates. Our discussions of the South African past will always be informed by a consideration of the approach of the scholars who have interpreted and presented it as history. Our major questions concern the origins of historical change and the creation of racial groups. We will probe the significance of race in South African history but also the limitations of its explanatory power. Readings are arranged at three levels. First, we will be reading primary sources, to gain experience in working with the evidence that informs historical work. Second, we will be working through a concise textbook that summarizes the major themes of South African history. Third, we will be reading specialized scholarly books and articles, chosen to illustrate recent discussions about the interpretation of South Africa's past. The course will meet twice a week for lecture and discussion groups will meet once a week.
AFRI 1500. Incarceration, Education, and Political Literacy.
This seminar (w/out audits) in politics and social justice is open to juniors/seniors. Captivity has become a critical political- social phenomenon in U.S. democracy, given that the United States has over two million people in prison/jails/INS detention centers. This two-part, one-year long course examines and maps (using cyber technology) captivity and criminality in the United States, focusing on race, gender, politics and literacy. Students are strongly urged to take both semesters; the second semester course as practicum, with training in cyber-technology and community-based learning/literacy, is open only to those who complete the fall course (Pt I) and the grade option for the second part of the course will be S/NC. Pre-Semester writing assignment required; see syllabus on WebCt for details.
AFRI 1500A. Black Life in the Post-Industrial City.
This course explores key themes in African American life in post-industrial U.S. cities. Relying on scholarly and historical sources and films, we will examine the complicated interplay of race, class, ethnicity, and gender dynamics in the transformation of black urban life in the late twentieth-century, the structures that have defined black urban life, and various expressive cultures and modes of resistance that have emerged out of the urban context. While not required, it is beneficial for students to have a working knowledge of twentieth century American history, and African American history in particular.
AFRI 1500B. Black Women Thinkers: Alternative Genealogies of Black Radical Thought.
This seminar examines contributions of Black women as major thinkers within the Black radical tradition, and provides a critical genealogy of Black feminist activists, writers and scholars contributing to social movements in the 20th century. Throughout the course, we will ask the following questions: What methods do Black women use to form critical thought? How is Black women’s knowledge disappeared and devalued within academic and activist contexts? Finally, how can we recover and center those histories within our work? Assignments include short writing assignments, a final paper, and a collaborative digital humanities project. Introduction to Africana Studies preferred.
AFRI 1540. Black Popular Cultures.
This course is an historical and topical examination of the development of black popular cultures. We will explore the debates about popular culture and specifically examine the ways that race (as well as gender, sexuality and class) shape these debates. In addition we will explore specific black popular cultural practices (music, dance, film, radio, theater, etc.) as well as the larger contexts for their production and reception. Instructor permission required.
AFRI 1580. Contemporary African Women's Literature.
The aim of the course is to introduce students to novels like Head's A Question of Power, El Saadawi's God Dies by the Nile, Adochie's Half of a Yellow Sun and other major prose works by contemporary African women writers. It will present the African woman as a writer, her environment and her commitments. The emphasis is on the writing of continental African women, but will include works of other women writers. For a brief but necessary historical background to the course, it will be introduced with selections from Margaret Busby's Daughters of Africa. Enrollment limited to 25.
AFRI 1600. History, Nation, Popular Culture and Caribbean Politics.
Examines Jamaican popular music as an ideological site of resistance to Creole nationalist versions of Caribbean history and politics. It grapples with the meanings of race, history, and nation-state as contested notions in Jamaican/Caribbean society tracing an alternative genealogy of Caribbean history and politics.
AFRI 1620. Black New Orleans: A Research Seminar.
Examines the development of a unique African/ American cultural and political identity in New Orleans. The seminar focuses on the development of the Faubourg Tremé, the oldest free black community in the United States, and covers the period from 1718 until 1899. Topics include: slavery and resistance; relations between enslaved and free blacks; social and political agitation; and the resulting early development of the nation's Civil Rights movement and legislation. There is discussion also of the formation and continued tradition of artists' and artisans' guilds; Creole language (e.g., Creole slave songs, proverbs); NOLA relationship to the Caribbean and Latin America. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1630. Modernist Africana Poetry of the Americas.
Focus on origins of Modernism among Africana authors of the Americas, with emphasis on the poetry, poetics and poetry movements of Brazil and Latin America, the Caribbean and US from 1888 through the first half of the 20th century. Begins with an overview of innovations wrought by Rubén Dario of Nicaragua, arguably the first modernist poet, and continues with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1910's and 20's; the Brazilian writers at the center of the Week of Modern Art of 1922; Caribbean writers of the Negrismo and Négritude movements; concludes with the work of such US and Anglophone Caribbean poets as Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden and Martin Carter. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1640. Development, Dependency, and Decline in Africa, 1950-2025.
This course on the history of Africa begins as European empire unraveled after the Second World War and ends with a look toward the future. Development was high on the international and national agenda in the mid-twentieth century, but the most conspicuous outcome of the following decades was dependency and decline. Yet the story is more mixed than has been represented in American headlines; it was not one of pre-determined and constant failure. More than ever, at the beginning of this new millennium, conditions across the continent have diverged. What are current signs for future development or continuing crisis?
AFRI 1710A. Political Visions and Community Formations.
This course aims to consider the depths of connection between forms of racialized, gender, class and sexual oppression vis a vis the creation and maintenance of community and intimate social bonds among the oppressed. We will read sociologists, historians and others who have worked ath this intersection and musicians and writers such as: Morrison, Bambara, Baldwin, Hill-Collins, Hansberry, soul and neosoul artists. Instructor permission required. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 1750. Eastern African History.
A lecture course examining the history of Eastern Africa from earliest times until 1963. The area includes the Great Lakes region, the Horn of Africa, Madagascar, and the East African Coast. The major topics are: precolonial interactions, the development of states and stateless societies, contact with other Indian Ocean people, the slave trade, colonial rule, and independence movements.
AFRI 1800. Race, Empire and Modernity.
Taking Cicero's notion of empire as "ways of life", this course will survey the history of empires as forms of rule. It will explore how race has been deployed in the various types of empire. The course will pay particular attention to empires in modernity since 1492. The course will think about the various technologies of rule and their discourses of power.
AFRI 1820. Contemporary African Political Philosophy.
This course examines some contemporary responses to the human condition in Africa. Topics will include Democracy, human rights, instability, social justice, identity, community and solidarity. These topics will be approached through the works of Canonical figures such as Leopold Senghor, K. Nkrumah, Frantz Fanon, Steve Biko and the recent analytical (T. Kiros), Hermeneutical (T. Serequeberhan), Existential (L. Gordon) Historicism and poeticism (P. Henry) and Postcolonial Misolocation (M. Diawara).
AFRI 1850. The Civil Rights Movement: History and Legacy.
Explores the origins, conduct and complex legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. Topics include: historical roots of the movement; the campaign against legal segregation; the birth of S.N.C.C.; Black Power; the impact of the Cold War, Vietnam and the coming of African independence; and the movement's impact on other political struggles, including movements among women, Latinos, and Native Americans.
AFRI 1920. Health Inequality in Historical Perspective.
Seminar takes a historical perspective to explore causes of health inequality. Draws on studies from the 19th century-present. Examines socio–political and economic context of health/disease, focusing on how race, class, and gender shape the experience of health, disease causality, and public health responses with emphasis on the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes health consequences of immigration and pandemics, incarceration, race-based medicine. Enrollment restricted to 20, second and third-year students.
AFRI 1930. Race, Difference and Biomedical Research: Historical Considerations.
This advanced seminar places the current debate over race, health, and genetics in historical context. An overarching goal is to understand how the social world informs the scientific questions we ask, design of research studies, and interpretation of findings. How have the theories and practices of biomedical science and technology produced knowledge of “race” and racial difference historically? How does race relate to gender and class? What are the implications of this debate for understanding health inequality? Previous coursework in Africana Studies preferred. Enrollment limited to 20; instructor permission.
AFRI 1950. Philosophy, Literature and the Caribbean Novel.
This is a thematic course on the philosophical and literary themes which emerge from the Caribbean novel and writing in general.
AFRI 1955. History and Memory in Africana Literature.
Focuses on the close reading of nine works by writers of African descent - encompassing a variety of eras, forms and genres, stretching from the slave narrative to more contemporary settings. The thrust is to examine how each writer wrestles with issues of history and memory, with particular attention to the sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit interest in ideas and modes of expression that are rooted in African culture. Enrollment limited to 20 sophomores, juniors, and seniors; preference given to Africana Studies and English concentrators.
AFRI 1968. 1968: A Year in Review.
In 1968 students’ walked-out at Brown, leading to the 1969 creation of the Rites and Reason Theatre and later the formation of Afro-American Studies, now the Department of African Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre. 1968 was also a global year of contention, confrontation and change, with consequences that continue to resonate into the present. This class harnesses the multiple narratives and studies of our faculty across the campus and alumni who took part in the 1968 walk-out. Classes blend lecture and discussion. Speakers assign appropriate reading to coincide with their topics. Requirements include mandatory participation to planned anniversary events.
AFRI 1970. Independent Reading and Research.
Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
AFRI 2001. Theories of Africana Thought: Intellectual History and Critical Theory.
This course will be a close reading of the various ideas, theories and practices of the thinkers, writers, artists and activitists whose work and practices have constituted an Africana intellectual tradition. In conducting this review we will examine questions around the formation and the history of thought and intellectual traditions in general. We will also think about the various fields of knowldege which have shaped Africana thought. The course therefore will spend some time working through the different meanings of intellectual work and critical thought and theory. Enrollment limited to 12 graduate students.
AFRI 2002. Theories of Africana Thought: Literary and Expressive Cultures.
A preoccupation of Africana Studies involves the central, highly contested role of the notion of what constitutes black culture in the modern world. To what degree can we claim aesthetic and other distinctions between black cultures in the Diaspora and other western cultural practices and expressive forms? What role did enslavement, forced migration and segregation play in shaping Africana culture in the modern west? These cultural debates play a central role in literary, musical, philosophical, aesthetic, historical and sociological analyses of the culture of people of African descent frame this graduate course.
AFRI 2100. Race and the Modern World.
Race and the Modern World is a team taught interdisciplinary graduate seminar that critically examines the intersections of ideas, institutions, ideologies, and practices that have defined race and processes of racialization in the modern era. The seminar will closely examine the theoretical and methodical issues in the critical study of race; the politics and political theories of race; the imbrications of discourses of race, culture, and public life; the political economy of race; and the intellectual history of the discourse of race with an emphasis on the university as a key site in the production of racial knowledge. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 2101. Methods in Africana Studies.
This graduate seminar brings together various methodological and theoretical approaches to interpreting Africana life, culture, thought, and politics. Placing special emphasis on emergent scholarship that shapes and reshapes the discipline of Africana Studies, we examine a selection of humanistic and social scientific studies of various local, national, and international contexts. Texts demonstrate the ways in which innovative interdisciplinary methods are crucial for understanding the complexity of the Africana world. We will give attention to the strategies scholars utilize to formulate their research questions, design their methodologies, and create new ideas that contribute to the advancement of Africana Studies scholarship.
AFRI 2102. Interdisciplinary Methods and Africana Studies.
This graduate seminar focuses on interdisciplinary methodology and Africana Studies. The seminar explores how students and scholars in Africana Studies use interdisciplinary methods developed in the social sciences and the humanities in novel and innovative ways. Students will critically examine key methodological issues in Africana Studies and how and in what ways these issues are similar to and differ from such disciplines as economics, history, sociology, and literature. Prerequisite: a prior undergraduate or graduate level methods in Humanities or Social Sciences. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 2104. Theorizing the Black Diaspora.
This seminar will focus on the theorization of the black diaspora as a way to explore the various articulations of colonialism, gendered racism and resistance against that racism throughout African-descendant communities. Course readings will highlight the scholarship of black women who have contributed to the internationalization of radical black vis-a-vis theories of diaspora, transnationalism, transformative politics, identity formation, and community. This course is open to upper level concentrators in Africana Studies by permission of instructor. Enrollment limited to 20.
AFRI 2300. Black Critique: Black Critical Theory - History, Literature, Politics, the Human Sciences of Being.
This class is about re-figuring black radical thought as a field of interdisciplinary critical theory. Working with the corpus of writers like Sylvia Wynter, WEB Du Bois and Frantz Fanon the course will seek to grapple with the practices, questions and ideas of Black thinkers around questions of the human, the figure of the black fugitive, the significance of enslaved labor to the capitalism, Black internationalism, black feminism and the ways in which questions of history have been reconfigured in Black thought. The course is an reading intensive one and is open to all graduate students.
AFRI 2450. Exchange Scholar Program.
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AFRI 2502. Race and Nation in the Spanish Caribbean.
For five centuries, the Caribbean has stood at a crucial crossroads in the unfolding history of the Americas, Europe, and the African diaspora. This seminar engages in a comparative survey of the interwoven dynamics of race and national construction in the making of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. The focus of the seminar will be placed on the on-going centrality of race in these island nations. Drawing on a range of readings in history, music, poetry and anthropology, this course will explore the overlapping historical contexts of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
AFRI 2970. Preliminary Examination Preparation.
For graduate students who have met the tuition requirement and are paying the registration fee to continue active enrollment while preparing for a preliminary examination.
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AFRI 2980. Graduate Level Independent Reading and Research.
A program of intensive reading and research. Section numbers may vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
AFRI 2990. Thesis Preparation.
For graduate students who have met the residency requirement and are continuing research on a full time basis.
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Brian W. E. Meeks
Barrymore A. Bogues
Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory, Professor of Africana Studies
Professor of Africana Studies; Professor of Medical Science
Professor of Africana Studies and American Studies
Professor of Africana Studies and Sociology
Brian W. E. Meeks
Professor of Africana Studies
Chancellor's Professorship of Africana Studies
John Edgar Wideman
Asa Messer Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies and Literary Arts
Associate Professor of Africana Studies; Associate Professor of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies
Francoise N. Hamlin
Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History
Keisha-Khan Y. Perry
Associate Professor of Africana Studies
Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Theatre Arts and Performance Studies
Visiting Associate Professor
Geri M. Augusto
Gerard Visiting Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs and Africana Studies
Dotun B. Ayobade
Assistant Professor of Africana Studies
Lisa L. Biggs
Assistant Professor of Africana Studies
The concentration in Africana Studies critically examines the artistic, historical, literary, and theoretical expressions of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. Central to the work of students and faculty in the concentration is the close collaboration of artists, scholars, and writers in examining relationships between academic and artistic knowledge about the world and human experience. Concentrators work closely with faculty members in developing new knowledge about the world and human existence through the critical and comprehensive study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. Concentrators are encouraged to study abroad in Africa, the Caribbean, and/or Latin America and to acquire language competency in a language other than English spoken in Africa and the diaspora.
Africana Studies presents a different conceptual paradigm that connects the global black experience. Africana Studies engages issues about historical and contemporary responses to local and global crises. It engages with how people of color create their own knowledge culturally and politically. It is oftentimes a critique of how forms of knowledge are produced. Concentrators acquire a host of interdisciplinary skills that allow them to ask questions about the world around them, and forms of knowledge production while developing critical analytical skills. Our concentrators deploy these skills in other classes, enriching their own general intellectual development.
In order to develop requisite competency in the discipline of Africana Studies, concentrators must complete eight (8) semester-long courses offered by or cross-listed with the Department. Six (6) courses must have an AFRI prefix or be offered by Africana Studies core faculty. Two (2) courses can be cross-listed. In some cases, Concentrators may petition the Department to accept other appropriate courses. Of these 8 courses, the following Africana Studies courses are required:
- AFRI 0090 An Introduction to Africana Studies
- AFRI 1360 Africana Studies: Knowledge, Texts and Methodology–Senior Capstone Seminar (Spring ONLY)
Please note: Beginning with the class of 2021, the concentration will be comprised of a total of 9 courses, which will include a required junior seminar to be offered during the second semester. Students studying abroad during the second semester of their junior year will be required to take the seminar during their senior year. If there is a documented conflict with another concentration's senior seminar, students should consult with the DUS.
The Department strongly encourages foreign study in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, during the student’s junior year of concentration. Although the Africana Studies Department actively supports programs in South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Brazil, and the English-Speaking Caribbean, at least six (6) courses must be completed in the department and taught by core faculty.
The Department also encourages the acquisition of language competencies, in addition to English, which are spoken in Africa and the diaspora. Since no continental African language is currently offered at Brown, concentrators who study abroad and acquire certified competency in any African language are welcome to petition the department for competency credit.
For more information about the concentration, please contact Professor Françoise Hamlin, Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Honors in Africana Studies
Africana Studies’ concentrators with outstanding academic records (demonstration of excellent research and writing skills from course selections to grades) may be admitted to the department’s Honors Program.
Students interested in pursuing honors should identify a faculty sponsor in Africana Studies (chosen from Core Faculty or affiliated faculty after Chair agreement) in their 6th semester and begin working on their thesis project during the summer before their senior year. By the end of the sixth semester, while working in consultation with a faculty advisor, the student must submit a rough draft of the project proposal. Please visit the department website for proposal guidelines. This preliminary plan should include a timeline for completion of the thesis and is not to exceed one (1) typewritten page. This plan should also include a bibliography that students have developed with their thesis advisor to guide their summer reading.
By the end of the summer, the Honor's candidate should be familiar with the secondary works in the field. (Secondary readings should be extensive and be incorporated into the final proposal, due Monday, September 14, 2020.) The student should also identify a second reader at this point. The final work plan/proposal, not to exceed three (3) typewritten pages, should incorporate the summer research findings and updates to the completion deadline. The final proposal must be approved and signed by a committee, comprised of the faculty advisor who is to direct the Honor's thesis, the second reader, and the concentration advisor. By the end of week three of the first senior semester, the thesis advisor should inform the Director of Undergraduate Studies by email that the proposal has been approved.
The Honor's candidate should complete at least one chapter of distinguished quality while enrolled in an independent study with their faculty advisor during the first semester of the senior year. Students must enroll in at least one, preferably two, semesters of independent study to work on their thesis.
For students completing graduation requirements by the end of Semester I (Fall), a first complete draft of the thesis should be completed by Friday, November 6, 2020. Final drafts must be submitted by Friday, November 27, 2020. For students completing graduation requirements by Semester II (Spring), a first complete draft of the thesis should be submitted by Friday, March 12, 2021. The final draft of the thesis should be submitted by Friday, April 16, 2021. Students must submit bound copies of the final thesis to the department and to each of their readers, along with an electronic copy of the completed thesis to the Academic Department Manager. All students are expected to formally present their thesis projects in the Department of Africana Studies on Monday, April 26, 2021 at a time to be determined. After this presentation, a department committee will make recommendations for honors to the Director of Undergraduate Studies and students will receive notification of the recommendation.
The department of Africana Studies offers a graduate program leading to the Ph.D. in Africana Studies. For more information on admission and program requirements, please visit the website: http://www.brown.edu/academics/gradschool/programs/africana-studies-0