21G.026 | Spring 2018 | Undergraduate

Global Africa: Creative Cultures

Readings and Videos

Students will find the resource How to Read Closely: Questions to Ask of Texts useful.

1 Course overview


Ferguson James. “Introduction: Global Shadows - Africa and the World.” In Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order. Duke University Press Books, 2006. ISBN: 9780822337171. [Preview with Google Books

Unit 1. Performance
2 Performing Africa


Ebron, Paulla A. “Introduction: Performing Africa.” In Performing Africa. Princeton University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780691074894. [Preview with Google Books]

Sawyer, Lena. “Racialization, Gender, and the Negotiation of Power in Stockholm’s African Dance Courses.” In Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness. Edited by Kamari Maxine Clarke and Deborah A. Thomas. Duke University Press Books, 2006. ISBN: 9780822337720.

Paulson, Michael. “Daughters of African Immigrants Use the Stage to Tell of Two Worlds,” New York Times, January 24, 2018.

3 Dress as performance


At least one episode of An African City. Series directed by Nicole Amarteifio and Dickson Dzakpasu. Color, 2014–present.

An African City, Season 1. YouTube.


Gondola, Ch. Didier. “Dream and Drama: The Search for Elegance among Congolese Youth.” African Studies Review 42, no. 1 (1999): 23–48.

Sylvanus, Nina. “Fashionability in Colonial and Postcolonial Togo.” Chapter 2 in African Dress: Fashion, Agency, Performance. Edited by Karen Tranberg Hansen and D. Soyini Madison. Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. ISBN: 9780857853813. [Preview with Google Books]

Ogunyankin, Grace Adeniyi. "‘These Girls’ Fashion is Sick!’: An African City and the Geography of Sartorial Worldliness." (PDF) Feminist Africa 21 (2016): 37–51.

Unit 2. Images
4 The visual, knowledge, and power


Landau, Paul S. “Empires of the Visual: Photography and Colonial Administration in Africa.” Chapter 5 in Images and Empires: Visuality in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa. Edited by Paul S. Landau and Deborah D. Kaspin. University of California Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780520229495. 

Campt, Tina M. “Striking Poses in a Tense Grammar: Stasis and the Frequency of Black Refusal.” Chapter 2 in Listening to Images. Duke University Press Books, 2017. ISBN: 9780822362708. 

Krings, Matthias. “Lance Spearman: The African James Bond.” Chapter 2 in African Appropriations: Cultural Difference, Mimesis, and Media. Indiana University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780253016294. [Preview with Google Books]

5 African cinemas: Representation, circulation, audiences


Félicité. Directed by Alain Gomis. Color, 129 min. 2017.

La noire de - Ousmane Sembène - (1966) [Legendado em português]. YouTube.


Şaul, Mahir. “Art, Politics, and Commerce in Francophone African Cinema.” Chapter 8 in Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution. Edited by Mahir Şaul and Ralph A. Austen. Ohio University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780821419311. 

Krings, Matthias and Onookome Okome, eds. “Nollywood and Its Diaspora: An Introduction.” In Global Nollywood: The Transnational Dimensions of an African Film Industry. Indiana University Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780253009357. [Preview with Google Books]

Unit 3. The Art World
6 Value


Steiner, Christopher B. “The Quest for Authenticity and the Invention of African Art.” Chapter 5 in African Art in Transit. Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780521457521. [Preview with Google Books]

Okeke-Agulu, Chika. “Opinion: Modern African Art Is Being Gentrified,” New York Times, May 20, 2017.

Foster, Robert J. “The Work of the New Economy: Consumers, Brands, and Value Creation.” Cultural Anthropology 22, no. 4 (2007): 707–31.

7 Authenticity, appropriation


Hobsbawm, Eric. “Introduction: Inventing Traditions.” In The Invention of Tradition. Edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger. Cambridge University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9781107604674. [Preview with Google Books]

Boateng, Boatema. “We Run a Single Country: The Politics of Appropriation.” Chapter 4 in The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here: Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana. University of Minnesota Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780816670031. 

Edoh, M. Amah. “From African Cloth to Global Luxury: Consumers in the Rebranding of Dutch Wax Cloth.” In Luxury in Africa: Aesthetics and Politics (forthcoming).

Unit 4. The Written Word
8 Writing and political engagement


Kane, Cheikh Hamidou. Chapters 1–6 in Ambiguous Adventure. Translated by Katherine Woods. Melville House, 2012. ISBN: 9781612190549. [Preview with Google Books]

Achebe, Chinua. “The Duty and Involvement of the African Writer.” (1968). BlackPast.org.

9 Writing about Africa in the world today


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “The Danger of a Single Story.” TED Global 2009.


Okparanta, Chinelo. Happiness, Like Water. Mariner Books, 2013. ISBN: 9780544003453. [Preview with Google Books]

Flood, Alison. “Interviewer Asks Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘Are There Bookshops in Nigeria?’,” The Guardian, January 30, 2018.

Alonge, Sede. “Of Course We Have Bookshops in Nigeria. But They’re for the Lucky Few,” The Guardian, January 31, 2018.

Wainana, Binyavanga. “How to Write about Africa.” Granta 92 (2006).

Unit 5. Science and Technology
10 Conceptualizing African scientific and technological knowledges


[Buy at MIT Press](https://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262027243
) Mavhunga, Clapperton Chakanetsa.“The Professoriate of the Hunt.” Chapter 2 in Transient Workspaces: Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe. MIT Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780262027243. [Preview with Google Books]

Eglash, Ron. “Generative Technologies from Africa.” Chapter 4.3 in Global Africa: Into the Twenty-First Century. Edited by Dorothy L. Hodgson and Judith A. Byfield, University of California Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780520287365. 

Tunstall, Dori. “Decolonizing Design Innovation: Design Anthropology, Critical Anthropology and Indigenous Knowledge.” Chapter 13 in Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice. Edited by Wendy Gunn, Ton Otto, and Rachel Charlotte Smith. Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. ISBN: 9780857853691. 

11 Innovation and development discourses


Naija Beta. Directed by Arthur Musah, Color, 50 min. 2016.


Cooper, Frederick. “Modernizing Bureaucrats, Backward Africans, and the Development Concept.” Chapter 2 in International Development and the Social Sciences: Essays on the History and Politics of Knowledge. Edited by Frederick Cooper and Randall Packard. University of California Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780520209572. [Preview with Google Books]

Kleist, Nauja. “Pushing Development: A Case Study of Highly Skilled Male Return Migration to Ghana.” Chapter 4 in Africa’s Return Migrants: The New Developers? Edited by Lisa Åkesson and Maria Eriksson Baaz. Zed Books, 2015. ISBN: 9781783602339. [Preview with Google Books]

12 African futures No readings or videos assigned

1. Know where the text is coming from

  • Who is the author?
  • When was the article written (general timeframe)?

2. Get the story straight

  • Who are the actors in the stories told?
  • What are they doing / What are the various roles played in these stories?
  • How do the actors or roles relate to one another?
  • What are the implications of these interactions?

3. Get the argument straight

  • What is the author arguing in the text (in my own words)?
  • What do I think of this argument?
  • Can I articulate a critique of it?
  • What questions remain unanswered for me?
  • What do I think of how the argument is articulated?
  • What theoretical concepts does the author leverage?
  • To what ends?

4. Figure out what you’re supposed to take away

  • Why was this reading assigned?
  • What am I (supposed / expected) to take away from it?

5. Put articles in conversation with each other

  • How do the [X] papers’ arguments differ?
  • How do they extend on each other? Contradict each other?

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2018
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Instructor Insights