African Studies Courses

AFR150Y1: Introduction to African Studies [48L] 
A multi-disciplinary study of Africa, emphasizing inquiry and critical analysis. Pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary African history, anthropology, politics, African humanism and society, religion, art, music, race, resistance, gender and Pan-Africanism. DR=HUM; BR=3


AFR250Y1: Africa in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities [48L, 24T]
 A critical examination of Africa as a living space rather than merely a site of intellectual speculation and study.  Uses scholarly and popular literature to explore the issues that engage the attention of ordinary Africans, ranging from the dramatic to the seemingly trivial, as they struggle to fashion meaningful lives in fast-changing societies.  Topics include urban transition and city life; economic, political and cultural impacts of globalization; new religious movements and changing conceptions of selfhood; new African diasporas in the West; dynamics of gender relations, kinships and identities; and the politics of liberalization.  Materials studied will include print and electronic news media and other mass media resources from Africa and across the world. DR=HUM/SOC SCI; BR=1+3


AFR280Y1: Introductory Swahili [24L, 72T] 
Introduction to grammar and basic vocabulary of Swahili. Emphasis on comprehension and oral practice. Reading of selected texts. Relation of the language to its East African cultural context. (Offered in alternate years) DR=HUM; BR=1


AFR290H1: The Idea of Africa [24L/12T] 
An historical examination of Africa as a conceptual category, exploring discourses and representations – both African and non-African – that have produced our understandings of the meanings of Africa and Africanness. Recommended Preparation: AFR150Y1 DR=HUM; BR=3


AFR322H1: The Contemporary African Novel (formerly NEW322Y1) [24S] 
Novels written in the last forty years by English, French and Portuguese-speaking Africans. Ideological views concerning colonialism and neo-colonialism. Tradition, religious and secular; the use of African symbolism. A small number of historical and sociological texts are recommended as essential background reading. Works not written in English are read in translation. (Offered in alternate years) Exclusion: AFR322Y1 DR=HUM; BR=TBA


JNH350H1: AIDS : Challenges and Successes (formerly NEW350H1) [24L] 
Explores the pandemic of AIDS in Africa through a social science lens. (Given by Human Biology and New College) Recommended preparation: AFR150Y1 Exclusion: NEW350H1 DR=SOC SCI/SCI DR=HUM; BR=TBA


AFR351Y1: African Systems of Thought (formerly NEW252Y1) [48L] 
The exploration of a range of African cosmologies, epistemologies, and theologies, as well as specific case studies on justice, the moral order, and gender relations. The influence of these richly diverse traditions is traced as well in the writings of African thinkers in the Diaspora. Recommended preparation: AFR150Y1 Exclusion: NEW252Y1, JAP256H1/JAP356H1 DR=HUM; BR=TBA


AFR352H1: International Organizations, NGOs, Development and Change in Africa [24L] 
Critically explores the role of international organizations such as the World Bank Group, the UN and NGOs in the economic development of Africa. Prerequisite: AFR150Y1AFR250Y1 or permission of the instructor. DR=HUM/SOC SCI; BR=TBA


AFR353H1: International Relations of Africa[24L] 
Explores inter-state relations in Africa, African states’ relations with the West, China, India, Brazil, and international political, economic and financial institutions. Prerequisite: AFR150Y1/AFR250Y1 DR=HUM/SOC SCI; BR=TBA


AFR354H1:  African Cultures and Development [24L] 
Critically examines scholarly debates on the relationships between African cultures and development in various regions of the continent. Draws on interdisciplinary scholarship and development discourses to enhance students’ understanding of African conditions and cultures in the context of development thinking. Prerequisite: AFR150Y1/​AFR250Y1 Exclusion: NEW358H1 (Special Topics in African Studies: Culture and Development in Postcolonial Africa), offered in Winter 2015, Winter 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019. DR=SOC SCI; BR=3 


AFR355H1:  African Youth Languages and Cultures [24L]  
Examines the nature of youth languages and cultures in contemporary Africa with a focus on their characteristics and the conditions under which they develop. Also considers similarities and/or differences between youth languages and cultures in different regions of Africa and the general youth condition. Includes urban youth languages such as Sheng, Engsh, Tsotsital, etc. and music genres associated with youth such as hip hop, Bongo flava, etc. Discusses challenges and opportunities associated with African youth languages as they relate to questions of identity, national integration, regional integration, and development. Prerequisite: AFR150Y1/​AFR250Y1/​AFR280Y1
Exclusion: NEW358H1 (Special Topics in African Studies: African Youth Languages and Cultures), offered in Winter 2018, Winter 2020.  DR=HUM; BR=2


AFR359H1:  The Horn of Africa:  Critical Perspectives [24L] 
Examines the Horn of Africa, its diversity, geopolitics, cultural politics, present conditions and current debates through a critical and comparative lens. Considers social forces in contemporary politics within the region including competing claims, explanations of the underpinnings of the Horn’s conflict, and the promise of peace. Draws upon interdisciplinary scholarship, public discourse, texts and media to reflect on the future of the Horn of Africa at this historical moment. Prerequisite: Completion of at least 4.0 FCEs Exclusion: NEW357H1 (Special Topics in African Studies: The Horn of Africa: Critical Perspectives) offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2019 Recommended Preparation: AFR150Y1/​AFR250Y1 DR=SOC SCI; BR=3


JQR360H1: The Canadian Census: Populations, Migrations and Demographics [24L, 12T] 
Examines the Canadian population census through the experience of diasporic groups in Canada. Approaches the census as a statistical tool, an historical source and an ideological project of citizenship and nationalism. Uses census data to explore mathematical and statistical concepts and to integrate numerical ways of thinking with qualitative analysis. (Jointly sponsored by African Studies, Diaspora and Transnational Studies, Caribbean Studies, Equity Studies and Latin American Studies). Prerequisite: AFR150Y1/​CAR220H1, CAR221H1/​​CAR225H1/​CAR226H1/DTS200Y1/​HIS230H1/​HIS231H1/​LAS200H1/​LAS201H1/​NEW120Y1/NEW224Y1/​​NEW240Y1/ DR=SOC SCI; BR=TBA


AFR365H1: Art, Media and Politics in Africa and the African Diaspora [24L] 
Explores the critical intersections between art, media and politics by analyzing the making and circulation of various indigenous and modern art forms and their use as creative and radical strategies for creative expression, dissent, citizenship, and alternative forms of representation, reimaginings, transcendence and agency in African post-colonial contexts, and interconnected with the African Diaspora. Prerequisite: Completion of 4.0 credits. Exclusion: NEW357H1 (Special Topics in African Studies: Art, Media and Politics in Africa and the African Diaspora), offered in Winter 2019 and Fall 2019. Recommended Preparation: AFR150Y1 DR=HUM; BR=1


AFR370H1: Anticolonialism, Radicalism and Revolutions in Africa [24L] 
An interdisciplinary exploration of the histories of nationalist and revolutionary movements, ideologies, and regimes in twentieth and twenty-first century Africa, examining the various ways that Africans imagined, actively shaped, and continue to demand freedom and political modernity. Emphasis will be placed on African history methodology (including oral history) and historiography to encourage students to apply a historical lens to approaching key themes and concepts in African Studies such as nationalism, decolonization, the state, politics, citizenship, labour movements, and pro-democracy movements. Prerequisite: Completion of 4.0 credits. Recommended Preparation: AFR150Y1HIS295Y1HIS297Y1 DR=HUM; BR=3


AFR380Y1: Intermediate Swahili [24L, 72T] 
Grammar and syntax. Conversation and written composition. Reading of texts: literary, journalistic. Relation of the language to its East African context. (Offered in alternate years) Prerequisite: AFR280Y1 DR=HUM; BR=TBA


AFR389H1: The Geopolitics and Debates on Africa-China Economic Relations [24L] 
Explores the geopolitics of Africa-Asia relations, in particular, the unabated and polarized debates and narratives on China’s engagement across sectors in Africa, ‘Africa-China’ multifaceted trade relations, strategies and interests, and economic diplomacy. Critically examines the changing landscape of economic cooperation and development financing in contemporary Africa, their underlying impulses and their broader implications. Prerequisite: Completion of 4.0 credits. Exclusion:NEW357H1AFR357H1 (Special Topics in African Studies: The Geopolitics and Debates on Africa-China Economic Relations), offered in Fall 2020 and Fall 2021. Recommended Preparation:AFR150Y1AFR250Y1AFR353H1 DR=SOC SCI; BR=3


AFR450Y1: African Studies Honours Research Seminar [24S] 
This honours research seminar required of all specialists and majors in African Studies offers critical explorations of the genealogy of African Studies, the transnational study of Africa, Africa’s place in a globalized world, the historical, intellectual and institutional contexts of Africanist knowledge production, its dissemination and consumption in Africa, Europe, the Americas and emerging academic sites in Asia. It engages with the paradigm shifts and vibrant scholarly and epistemic debates across disciplines and geographies as well as unfolding events, public discourses, geopolitics, African popular cultures and the reimagining of African futures through canonical, emergent scholarship and creative media and emphasizes students’ original and creative research explorations, engaged praxis and search for alternative theorizing and decolonial epistemologies.  Prerequisite: AFR150Y1/​AFR250Y1/​400-level Group A Course. DR=SOC SCI; BR=3


AFR451H1: Special Topics in African Studies [24L]
 An upper level course. Topics of study vary from year to year. DR=HUM/SOC SCI; BR=TBA


AFR453Y1: Language and Postcolonial Education in East Africa [48S] 
Examines the choice of languages for education in East Africa using critical perspectives. Pays particular attention to the influences of the historical experience of colonialism, the socio-linguistic contours of each country and the strength of linguistic and educational lobby groups in East African countries. Prerequisite: AFR150Y1/​AFR250Y1 or permission of instructor DR=HUM; BR=1+3


AFR454H1:  Migration, Mobility, and Displacement in Africa [24S]  
Why do people move voluntarily or involuntarily?  What are the causes and consequences of migration and displacement in Africa?  This course critically examines the multifaceted dimensions of migration, mobility, and displacement, with a specific focus on communities and populations displaced by war, environmental destruction and disaster, economic failings, and the quest for economic opportunities, love, education, or individual freedom.  Prerequisite: AFR150Y1/​AFR250Y1 or permission of instructor.  Exclusion:  NEW451H1 (Fall 2016).  Recommended Preparation:  JQR360H1/NEW351Y1.  DR=HUM; BR=3


AFR455H1:  Conflicts, Negotiations and Peacebuilding in Africa [24S]  
Examines conflicts and peace negotiations in African contexts such as Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and North Africa through public discourse, citizen actions, policy debates and mobilizations. Explores formal, informal, indigenous and institutional mediation and peace negotiation platforms, strategies, and impulses. Analyzes various conflict zones, case studies and intervention strategies for negotiating and sustaining peace in Africa in the broader context of the war on terror, increasing militarism, and securitization in peacebuilding. Prerequisite: AFR150Y1/​AFR250Y1 Exclusion: NEW451H1 (Special Topics in African Studies: Conflicts, Negotiations and Peacebuilding in Africa), offered in Winter 2019, Winter 2020; NEW452H1. Recommended Preparation: AFR353H1.  DR=SOC SCI; BR=3


 AFR499H1: Advanced Topics in African Studies [24S] 
A joint graduate/undergraduate upper-level seminar.  Topics vary from year to year, depending on the instructor.  Consult the Program Office for course enrolment procedures. Prerequisite:AFR150Y1AFR250Y1, at least 1.0 credit from African Studies Group A at the 300+ level.  Students who do not meet the prerequisites are encouraged to contact the Program Office. DR=SOC SCI, HUM


2022-2023 African Studies Special Topics Courses

AFR358HIF: African Literature and Modes of Storytelling

This course explores three major modes of narrating and thus reading the continent (by African novelists and literary storytellers) in the late colonial and postcolonial era. The exploration begins with a mode which lent itself to ethnographic interpretations, and seemed to work as counternarratives to historically disenfranchising tales of Africa. A second mode features tales that often highlight a cause, or a social problem on the continent. Then, there is an emerging third mode of storytelling, in which writers tell stories just for the sake of it. Course materials will primarily include novels and some critical texts


AFR459H1S:  Advanced Topics: Climate Change, Food Security, and Sustainability in Africa

Food security is a major challenge and urgency in various African regions, countries and fragile agro-ecological zones. What is the nexus between food security, climate change and sustainability in Africa today? This course critically examines the complex dynamics between food insecurity, livelihood security, the uncertainties, risks and vulnerabilities from changing climate, pandemics, conflicts, natural disasters, and the challenges and opportunities for sustainable futures in Africa. Case studies methods, guest speakers, modeling and scenario-building exercises will enrich students’ experience and complement the canonical and emergent interdisciplinary scholarship on the topic.


Past and Future African Studies Special Topics Courses (not offered in 2022-2023)

Postcolonial African Cities and Urban Futures

From slums, bustling cultural scenes and cityscapes, to diaspora lanes, African cities show diverse trajectories, inequalities and uneven pace of urbanization. Challenging clichés of African cities as ‘dystopian’ and ‘off the map’, this course critically examines the processes and dynamics of urban transformation and rapid urbanization of African cities and their social, ecological, political, economic and cultural implications. It interrogates key drivers of urbanization in the postcolonial era, the challenges of sustainable urban development, urban policy and governance, the demand and need for inclusive and just urbanism, and the reimagining of African urban futures. In addition to the exposure to cutting edge scholarship on African urbanization, students will have the unique opportunity to engage with excellent speakers from various disciplines, leading international institutions and Africa-based city-builders and social entrepreneurs.