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Program in African Studies


Daniel I. Rubenstein

Executive Committee

V. Kofi Agawu, Music 

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Philosophy, University Center for Human Values 

Wendy L. Belcher, Comparative Literature, African American Studies 

André Benhaïm, French and Italian 

Mariana P. Candido, History 

Anne C. Case, Woodrow Wilson School, Economics 

Andrew P. Dobson, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 

Simon E. Gikandi, English 

Emmanuel H. Kreike, History 

Evan S. Lieberman, Politics 

F. Nick Nesbitt, French and Italian 

Chika O. Okeke-Agulu, Art and Archaeology, African American Studies 

Tullis C. Onstott, Geosciences 

Elizabeth L. Paluck, Psychology 

S. George H. Philander, Geosciences 

Carolyn M. Rouse, Anthropology, African American Studies 

Daniel I. Rubenstein, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 

Winston O. Soboyejo, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 

Leonard Wantchekon, Politics

Jennifer A. Widner, Woodrow Wilson School, Politics 

Sits with Committee

Mahiri Mwita, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

Nancy Pressman-Levy, Library

The Program in African Studies is a multidisciplinary forum that brings together students and faculty to learn about Africa--its peoples, environments, and resources--by exploring cultural, historical, political, scientific, and technological issues. These themes are brought together in foundational courses and are reinforced in the senior colloquium where students share their works in progress. Since a number of departments offer foundational courses that focus on African issues, any one of these can serve as an Introduction to Africa. In between these "bookends," students will take four additional courses from at least three of the following four key areas: (1) Culture, Literature, and the Arts; (2) History; (3) Science, Technology, and Health; and (4) Politics and Economics. Students are encouraged to study in Africa; the program offers language and literature courses in Kiswahili and sponsors and endorses a variety of field study programs. The program casts a wide net, enabling students majoring in any department to design a course of study that satisfies their interests in Africa.

Admission to the Program

Students seeking admission to the program should contact the program manager.

Program of Study

To obtain the certificate of proficiency, students must complete the normal requirements in their major department as well as the following requirements of the program:

1. One foundational course from a list of designated courses (such as ART 237, ART 260/AAS 260/AFS 260, COM 239/AFS 239, HIS 314, or HIS 316) that serves as an Introduction to Africa;

2. One course each in three of the four key areas: (1) Culture, Literature, and the Arts; (2) History; (3) Science, Technology, and Health; and (4) Politics and Economics;

3. One elective course from one of the four key areas that can be an advanced-topics seminar offered by Africanists in a variety of departments or the year-long sequence in Swahili offered on campus;

4. The Senior Colloquium where students discuss work in progress;

5. A senior thesis on Africa or an African-related topic.

Students who study at the University of Cape Town or elsewhere must submit courses for certificate credit to the program manager for director approval.

Study Abroad

The Program in African Studies strongly encourages concentrators to study in Africa. Princeton has its own "Semester in Kenya" where Princeton faculty and Kenyan scholars teach a sequence of four courses that each lasts a week. A summer program of intensive Swahili instruction in Tanzania at the University of Dar es Salaam taught by Princeton and African instructors was initiated in the summer of 2007. Princeton also has a linkage with the University of Cape Town to enable undergraduates to study in South Africa for a semester or a year. Students are also welcome to study at other African universities, such as Rhodes University in South Africa, which offers an approved summer course.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who have met the requirements of the program and their department will receive a certificate of proficiency in African studies upon graduation.

Courses in African Studies. A list of courses in African studies offered by other departments and programs may be found on the program website. If other courses on Africa are offered, these may be added with the permission of the director.

The Program in African Studies sponsors seminars throughout the year that bring to the University distinguished scholars, government officials, and other experts with diverse points of view and interests in Africa. The program also sponsors an "Indaba" where members of the University gather for informal discussion of African issues over breakfast once a week during the term. Students in the program are invited to participate in both these meetings.

Program in Swahili. The Program in African Studies offers a four-term sequence of language instruction in Swahili. Completion of all four terms of the sequence will satisfy the University language requirement. Occasionally, more advanced courses also will be offered. Note: Normally students electing a beginner's course in any language will receive credit only if two terms are completed.

The program emphasizes the skills of speaking, reading, and writing Swahili as well as the cultural context of the East African nations where Swahili is spoken. The program encourages students to consider study abroad during the school year or the summer to complement their language study. Princeton offers intensive intermediate Swahili instruction during the summer at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. For more information, contact the Program in African Studies.

Princeton in Africa. Students interested in working in Africa after graduation can apply to the Princeton in Africa (PiAF) program for fellowships. Princeton in Africa seeks to develop young leaders committed to Africa's enhancement. To accomplish this, PiAF offers opportunities for service through fellowships with a variety of organizations that work across the African continent.


AFS 200 Introduction to African Studies   Not offered this year SA

An exploration of the past, present, and future of Africa in a multidisciplinary setting. A dozen Africanist faculty members collaborate in an effort to shed light on both the huge potential of Africa and its peoples and the enormous challenges the continent faces. Topics vary from politics, economics, conservation, biodiversity, climate change, the environment, health and disease, and written and oral literature, to the impact of the world on Africa as well as Africa's contributions to and place in worlds present and past. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

AFS 258 Music of Africa (see MUS 258)

AFS 315 Introduction to Swahili Culture (see SWA 315)

AFS 330 Landmarks of French Culture and History (see FRE 330)

AFS 400 Topics in African Studies   Not offered this year

Designed to allow juniors and seniors enrolled in the program to examine significant problems in Africa in an interdisciplinary manner. Topics vary from year to year, reflecting faculty research interests. Prerequisite: one core course and one cognate course, or instructor's permission. Required of all program concentrators; open to others by permission of program director and course instructor. Staff

AFS 411 Art, Apartheid, and South Africa (see AAS 411)

AFS 416 Topics in Postcolonial Literature (see ENG 417)

AFS 427 Conflict in Africa   Fall

Examines selected aspects on conflict in Africa. The concept "conflict" is used to mean organized and/or collective political violence that causes the death of about 1,000 people per year. The course will focus on the following issues: analytical debates about conflicts in Africa; actors/participants such as guerrillas, warlords, and child soldiers; continental politics about conflict; the politics of humanitarian intervention; wars in the Great Lakes Region; the war and warlords of West Africa; the genocide in Rwanda, and the aftermath of wars, especially those of Southern Africa. One three-hour seminar. A. Seegers

SWA 101 Elementary Swahili I   Fall

An introduction to Kiswahili language and culture. Focuses on the development of the communication skills students need to interact with Swahili speakers. Instruction emphasizes cultural themes and experiential activities that enhance the four components of speaking, writing, listening, and reading. Students will also gain some insight into the cultures of East Africa. Four classes. No credit is given for SWA 101 unless followed by SWA 102. M. Mwita

SWA 102 Elementary Swahili II   Spring

Continuation of SWA 101. Emphasis is on increasing proficiency in reading and listening comprehension, speaking, and writing. Cultural contexts of the East African societies where Swahili is spoken are incorporated in classroom activities in order to enhance communication and cultural proficiency. Prerequisite: SWA 101. Four classes. M. Mwita

SWA 105 Intermediate Swahili I   Fall

This second-year Swahili course focuses on enhancing the communicative skills acquired in the first year. Instruction emphasizes reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The course infuses cultural and sociopolitical aspects of life in East Africa with more complex grammatical concepts such as the subjunctive, grammar infixes, and relative clauses. Prerequisites: SWA 101 and 102, or instructor's permission. Four classes. M. Mwita

SWA 105T Intermediate Swahili I in Tanzania  

This intensive four-week course offered at the University of Dar es Salaam will cover similar content as the regular 105 offered at Princeton in the fall semester. Content will continue from 101 and 102, focusing on enhancing the communicative skills acquired in the previous semesters, through reading, writing, speaking, and listening activities on cultural content that review and consolidate already acquired language skills. Special emphasis will be placed on East African content and classroom/out-of-class activities/exercises will require frequent day-to-day interaction with native speakers of Kiswahili. M. Mwita, A. Mutembei

SWA 107 Intermediate Swahili II   Spring

Emphasizes conversational fluency and increased facility in reading and writing skills while introducing students to Swahili literature. This literature forms the basis for a survey of cultural issues and more advanced grammar. Students will be able to understand and analyze the main ideas and significant details of materials in Swahili such as media articles, short stories, poetry, short novels, films, and plays. Covers advanced-level Swahili grammar, as well as the development of expository writing skills. Prerequisite: SWA 105, or instructor's permission. Four classes. M. Mwita

SWA 107T Intermediate Swahili II in Tanzania  

This is a continuation of the 105T (Intermediate Swahili I) intensive summer course offered at the University of Dar es Salaam. It will cover similar content as the regular 107 offered at Princeton in the spring semester. Communicative skills acquired in the previous semesters will be enhanced through reading, writing, speaking, and listening activities on cultural content that review and consolidate already acquired language skills. Special emphasis will be placed on East African content and classroom/out-of-class activities/exercises will require frequent day-to-day interaction with native speakers of Kiswahili. M. Mwita, A. Mutembei

SWA 200 Readings in Kiswahili Literature and East African Culture (also COM 200)   Fall LA

This course is an introduction to the basics of literature and their application to literature in Kiswahili. Content will focus on understanding the basic vocabulary and concepts used in describing literary theory and criticism in Kiswahili language. Students will read selected materials on literary theory and criticism written in Kiswahili as well as sample Swahili texts from the various genres (novel, drama, and poetry) to gain understanding of the nature of literature written in Kiswahili. M. Mwita

SWA 305 Kiswahili Novel (also COM 367)   Spring LA

Although the novel is the youngest genre in the Swahili critical tradition, it has experienced some of the most revolutionary and innovative experimentations since it gained mainstream prominence in Swahili literature, mainly during the post-colonial/independence literary revolution. This course is a reading of the Kiswahili novel with a critical analysis of the socio-political and critical trends in the literary world that have influenced the writings of contemporary Swahili novelists. The colonial/independence and post independence experience in east Africa are some of the motifs that inform the course readings and class discourse. M. Mwita

SWA 315 Introduction to Swahili Culture (also AFS 315)   Fall LA

This is an introductory course to Swahili culture. You will learn who the Swahili people were and who they have become, who they are not, and what the term 'Swahili' may refer to. This is a multidisciplinary course that will be sourced from different texts, newspapers, booklets, films, music videos, pictures, guest presentations, handouts, web sites, and a taste of Swahili cuisine. Through these you will get a bird's eye view of the East African people as well as some other Swahili speaking groups and their cultures. Staff