TAFAIAS75U Compulsory course: Introduction to African Studies

Volume 2024/2025

MA programme in African Studies


African Studies is the interdisciplinary study of Africa and Africa in the world past and present. This course provides an introduction to African Studies as an academic field including the history, development and main debates within the field. The courses further introduces the interdisciplinary approaches central to African Studies. The course pays attention to historical and contemporary ideas and representations of Africa, introduces historical dimensions of African realities and examines the relationship of Africa in and to the world. The course also provides an overview of the main conceptual debates within the field. Finally, the course discusses the kinds of knowledge African Studies produces, the significance (for whom, for what) of doing African Studies as well as the implications of theorizing from the South.

Learning Outcome

The aim is for the student to acquire the following qualifications:

  • Knowledge of significant aspects of African Studies as an academic field
  • Knowledge of approaches to Africa and Africa in the world
  • Knowledge of historical and contemporary representations of Africa and their implications
  • Knowledge of key theoretical debates relevant for African Studies
  • Skills in appreciating and employing interdisciplinary approaches to Africa
  • Skills in processing and orally communicating knowledge during the course
  • Competences to reflect critically and independently on topics and themes from an area studies perspective.

Suggested literature:

Ampofo, Akosua Adomako. 2016. ‘Re-viewing Studies on Africa, #Black Lives Matter, and Envisioning the Future of African Studies’, African Studies Review, 59 (2): 7-29.


Desai, Gaurav, and Adeline Masquelier (eds.), 2018. Critical Terms for the Study of Africa. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press


Falola, Toyin, and Christian Jennings. 2002. Africanizing Knowledge: African Studies across the Disciplines . New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers.


Goldstone, Brian, and Juan Obarrio. 2016. ‘Introduction: Untimely Africa?’, in Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio (eds.), African Futures: Essays on Crisis, Emergence and Possibility, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 1-19.


Guyer, Jane. 1996. African Studies in the United States: A Perspective. New Brunswick, N.J.: African Studies Association.


Lonsdale, John. 2005. ‘African Studies, Europe & Africa’, afrika spectrum, 3: 377-402.

Pailey, Robtel N. 2016. ‘Where is the ‘African’ in African Studies?’, African Arguments, 7 June 2016.


Spies, Eva and Rüdiger Seeseman, 2016. ‘Pluralicity and Relationality: New Directions in African Studies’, Africa Today, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 132-139

Zeleza, Paul. T. 1997. Manufacturing African Studies and Crises. Dakar : CODESRIA Book Series.


Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe, 2006. ‘The disciplinary, interdisciplinary and global dimensions of African studies’, International Journal of African Renaissance Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp.195-220.


The course is only open for CAS MA students and professional master students.
The course is organised in sessions of 2 hours twice per week over 7 weeks in the first half of the first semester.
The course will be based on lectures combined with classroom discussions, requiring an active participation from the students.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 122
  • Exam Preparation
  • 59
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Total
  • 210
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
Type of assessment details
a) active participation through two oral presentations based on the set course reading list and attendance (75 percent)
b) a 20-minute oral exam on a selected question with 20 minutes of preparation time.
Marking scale
completed/not completed
Censorship form
No external censorship
No censorship