Sampling Soul

Examines how the concept of “Soul” has functioned as raw data for contemporary forms of cultural expression. Considers the broader cultural implications of sampling, in the practices of parody and collage, and the legal ramifications of sampling within the context of intellectual property law. Course also offers the opportunity to rethink the concept of archival material in the digital age. One course.

The Wire

Examines all 60 episodes of the HBO series “The Wire.” Described as “socially robust” by one television scholar, the series dramatizes the real world experiences of poor, mostly African American, residents of Baltimore struggling to survive by way of the underground drug economy, while city officials and the police department strive to bring the illegal trade in check. The course brings all 60 episodes into conversation with relevant texts in anthropology, sociology, cultural geography, queer and literary theory. Requirements include weekly blog entries and a final keyword project.

Visualizing the Caribbean

Art (paintings, installations, performance art) and film on the Caribbean offer vantage points for analyzing alternative ways through which the region has been thought, imagined and produced. They are periodized semiotic productions that feed into and are marked by perspectives that are at once global, national, and even personal. Considering the constitutive contexts of these productions and performances, we will attempt to glean the diverse perspectives, and the way these have influenced sociocultural policy and offer alternative interpretations of diasporic lifeways of Caribbean people.

Apartheid South Africa and the Struggles for Democracy

Explores key themes in post-World War II South African history, paying attention to the plethora of anti-apartheid struggles, while giving voice to some pro-apartheid proponents. Discusses how apartheid affected people’s daily lives, the ideological and programmatic opposition to apartheid, and internecine struggles between and within anti-apartheid organizations and movements. Concludes with contemporary reflections on life during apartheid. One course.

War and Public Health in Africa

An inquiry into the nature of contemporary war in sub- Saharan Africa and its human cost. Uses public health as a parameter to assess the impact of organized collective violence on people’s lives. Link between war and public health established and measured with respect to civilian deaths, gender based violence, physical and psychological trauma, mental disorders, malnutrition and famine, and the spread of epidemic diseases, inter alia HIV/AIDS.

Conflict Analysis in Africa (case studies)

Utilizes four case studies to outline components of conflict analysis in Africa. Examines regional crisis nexus between Darfur, Chad and Central African Republic. Looks at issues of post-coloniality, autochthony, migration, citizenship, land tenure, and inequality. On a theoretical level, identifies potentially cross-cutting, deeper layers of contemporary crises in Africa with the objective of establishing a series of templates, a “protocol,” for comparative conflict analysis and conflict management in Africa. One course.

Development and Africa

Addresses the vexed issue of economic development in Africa—its many failures, its occasional successes—from the early colonial period to the present. Focuses especially on the transition from the 1960s “modernizing” moment to the millennium projects and humanitarian aid of the present. Will read the works of development experts, World Bank executives, anthropologists and historians, asking why this massively financed project has experienced such failure and exploring what can be done. One course.