TAFANFA15U Thematic course: New Frontiers in Africa

Volume 2024/2025

MA programme in African Studies


Title: New Frontiers in Africa


Africa is a continent of immense diversity and dynamism in which new material, symbolic and knowledge frontiers are continually opening up both through internally organic processes and through encounters with external actors and actions. This can and does generate shifts in and across different domains – spatial, social, cultural, political, economic – where changing conditions and relations are reshaping multiple frontiers.

While concerned with multiple frontiers and their interactions overall, this course will focus on three selected arenas: digital frontiers, geopolitical frontiers, and religious-health frontiers.

The course aims to provide students with critical analytical skills for understanding and engaging with the challenges and opportunities related to the selected emerging frontiers in diverse African contexts.

The course will investigate various approaches to the notion of ’frontier’ – both theoretical and methodological – for investigating and analysing a range of emerging empirical frontier forms and their effects. In keeping with an interdisciplinary, critical African Studies approach, it will introduce students to ways of thinking about frontiers in their historical, spatial, political, social, cultural, economic and technological contexts. The selected areas of focus include growing trends and new dynamics linked to widescale digitalisation across the African continent; the effects within and beyond the continent of geopolitical shifts in interests, actors, encounters and conflicts linked not least to changes from a unipolar to more multipolar world order; and changing relations, practices and effects arising out of new encounters between religious and health spheres on the continent. Attention will also be given to new epistemological/knowledge frontiers being generated on the continent.

Learning Outcome

Learning outcome

  • Knowledge of key critical approaches to frontiers and their implications (especially in relation to Africa and people on and with relations to the continent)
  • Knowledge of tools for undertaking critical analysis of frontiers
  • Skills in undertaking and reflecting on frontiers in different settings  
  • Skills in identifying and developing a key theme relevant to the course focus
  • Competence to conduct independent, interdisciplinary and critical analysis of frontiers, based on relevant theoretical approaches and empirical material



Abdulle, M. A. 2024. “The Rise of the Multipolar World Order: Opportunities and Challenges for Africa”. Journal of International Relations and Policy5(1), 1-10.

Ani, Ndubuisi Christian 2021. “Coup or Not Coup: The African Union and the Dilemma of “Popular Uprisings” in Africa”, Democracy and Security, 17:3, 257-277

Anthonio, F. And Tony Roberts 2023. “Internet Shutdowns and Digital Citizenship”. In: Roberts, T. And Tanja Bosch (2023) Digital Citizenship in Africa - Technologies of Agency and Repression. Bloomsbury Academic: London

Basedau, M. 2020. A Force (Still) to Be Reckoned With: The Military in African Politics. (GIGA Focus Afrika, 5). Hamburg: GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies

Benyah, F. 2022. “Prayer Camps, Mental Health, and Human Rights Concerns in Ghana”. Journal of Religion in Africa51(3-4), 283-308.

Bol, G.K., van Niekerk, D. 2023. Climate Change and the Rising Disaster Risk in Africa. In: D'Amico, S., De Pascale, F. (eds) Geohazards and Disaster Risk Reduction.Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research. Springer, Cham.

Carbone, G., Pellegata, A. 2020. Political Leadership in Africa: leaders and development south of the Sahara. Cambridge University Press.

Chilaka F.C., Peter T.O. 2022. “Resurgence of Military Coups in West Africa: Implications for ECOWAS”. African Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Research 5(2), 52- 64

Cons, Jason, and Michael Eilenberg, 2019. “Introduction. On the New Politics of Margins in Asia: Mapping Frontier Assemblages”, in Jason Cons and Michael Eilenberg (eds.), Frontier Assemblages: The Emergent Politics of Resource Frontiers in Asia, Hoboken NJ and Chichester: Wiley, pp. 1-18

Davies, S. 2020. “The Trojan Horse: Digital Health, Human Rights, and Global Health Governance”, Health and Human Rights Journal 22 (2): 41-48.

Khisa, M., Day C. 2020. “Reconceptualising Civil-Military Relations in Africa”. Civil Wars, 22:2-3, 174-197

Korf, Benedikt, Tobias Hagmann and Martin Doevenspeck, 2013. ‘Geographies of Violence and Sovereignty: The African Frontier Revisited’, in Benedikt Korf and Tomothy Ræmaykers (eds.), Violence on the Margins: States, Conflict, and Borderlands, pp. 29-54

Lakoff, A. 2010. Disaster and the Politics of Intervention. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lloyd, R. B., Haussman, M., James, P. 2019). "Religion, health care, and Africa". Religion and Health Care in East Africa. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Mosley, Jason, and Elizabeth E. Watson, 2016. “Frontier Transformations: Development Visions, Spaces and Processes in Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 10 (3): 452–475

Neumark, T., Prince, R.J. 2021. “Digital Health in East Africa: Innovation, Experimentation and the Market”. Glob Policy 12: 65-74. 

Nyamnjoh, Francis B. 2017. “Incompleteness: frontier Africa and the currency of conviviality”. Journal of Asian and African Studies 52(3): 253–270

Onongha, K. 2015. “African religion and health care delivery in Africa”. Contemporary perspectives on religions in Africa and the African diaspora (pp. 61-69). New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.

Peluso, N.L., Lund, C. 2011. “New frontiers of land control: Introduction”. Journal of Peasant Studies 38(4), p. 667–81.


Peters, M. A. 2023. “The emerging multipolar world order: A preliminary analysis”. Educational Philosophy and Theory55(14), 1653-1663.


Sullivan, C., & Tyson, S. 2023. “A global digital identity for all: the next evolution”. Policy Design and Practice6(4), 433–445.

Tendi, B.-M. 2020. “The motivations and dynamics of Zimbabwe’s 2017 military coup”. African Affairs, Volume 119, Issue 474, January 2020, Pages 39–67


Thiel, A. and Ntewusu, S. 2024. The Social Life of Health Data: Health Records and Knowledge Production in Ghana. Palgrave MacMillan. Selected chapters.

Walker, B. B. 2022. Religion in Global Health and Development: The Case of Twentieth-Century Ghana. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.

Yadav, P., Lassa, J., Marchezini, V. and van Niekerk, D. 2022. "Introduction to calling for change in disaster studies – rethinking disaster studies", Disaster Prevention and Management, 31 (3): 177-181.

Passed a minimum of 120 ECTS on BA-level
A thematic course consists of two classes (7.5 and 15 ECTS) per week for one semester
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 244
  • Exam
  • 120
  • Total
  • 420
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
15 ECTS: A written paper on a topic of the student’s own choosing comprising 36,000-43,200 characters.

Students can participate in and register for group examination in thematic courses without having a dispensation and approval from the study board. The students must register the group at the exam office. A group can consist of a maximum of three students.
For written group exams the requirements for the combined reading list and the length of the paper is the same as when writing individually, i.e. the length is multiplied by the number of students in the group. The authors of the individual sections must be clearly identified in the exam paper. For all group exams students will be given individual grades.
All three exam attempts for a given thematic course have to be conducted within a year following the conclusion of the course.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

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