Africa is Not a Country

Instructor: 
Cameron Gokee
Day/Time Taught: 
MWF 9:00 - 9:50; MWF 10:00 - 11:00
Term: 
Spring
Year: 
2016
Prefix: 
UCO
Course Number: 
1200
Section-1: 
101
Section-2: 
103

How has Africa come to occupy such an ambiguous place in the global imagination? For many Americans, it remains a "dark continent" perpetually troubles by corrupt governance, extreme poverty, and now transnational terrorism. For many Black communities around the world, Africa represents a motherland of shared cultural identity and history. For China and other economic player, the continent is merely a vast reserve of natural resources and consumer markets. For many Africans themselves, the idea of Africa is bound up with more local concerns of ethnic identitiy, national politics, and economic opportunity. In this course, we will explore these diverse visions of Africa through a number of historical and contemporary sources - the writing of ancient Greeks and Arab merchants, the accounts of colonial administrators, the literature of Afro-American authors, the manifestos of African independence, the global news media, and conversations with university students in Senegal. Drawing on these multiple perspectives in weekly discussion and a final group research project, we will critically examine common stereotypes about the cultural sameness, traditional timelessness, and economic backwardness of people across Africa. 

Instructor Bio: 

Cameron Gokee (PhD, University of Michigan) is an anthropological archaeologist interested in how societies past and present engage with the material world—including tools, cultural media, buildings, and landscapes. Over the past decade, he has worked at a number of archaeological sites in West Africa to study medieval states, especially the Empire of Mali, and the impacts of globalization on rural villages over the past two thousand years. He also collaborates on a project that explores the “contemporary archaeology” of material culture and camp sites made and used by undocumented migrants today crossing from Mexico into southern Arizona. In his First Year Seminar courses, Cameron strives to bring the excitement of “the field” to campus through inquiry-based and experiential learning that gets students first asking critical questions about relations among people, things, and places, and then moving to address these questions through hands-on activities, field trips, and in-class debate.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Dr. Martha McCaughey
mccaugheym@appstate.edu

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