INAF-396 Social Change: Sub-Saharan Africa
Spring for 2017-2018
In recent years headlines about Africa in mainstream English language media have shifted from describing Africa as the world’s basket case, to extolling Africa’s rise and its promise for the future narratives of “Rising Africa”, and back again, with reports of the Ebola outbreak, extremist violence, and current predictions of dire impacts on local economies due to China’s economic slowdown. Throughout Africa’s history, Africa watchers have often fallen into one of two camps: the Afro-pessimists and the Afro-optimists. Africa has, indeed, experienced some drastic social changes in the past two to three decades, but do these merit either the enthusiasm or the dire forecasts? Can the future of an entire continent, in fact, be so readily described in such simplistic binary terms?

During this course, we will question the “bottom billion”, “Africa Rising”, and other such divisive debates and discourses by examining social change on the continent through the lenses of development, migration, and gender. We will explore linkages between social change and development, conflict and violence, and livelihoods; we will unpack discourses about “China-in-Africa”; and we will look for connections between shifting gender norms and practices, migration, and development. This course strives to link some of the macro shifts of globalization and changing global power dynamics to on-the-ground social changes and impacts on African societies and lives AND examine how Africans themselves are dealing with these changes.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
More information
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