nl en

Communication in Africa


Admission requirements



Languages and cultures use verbal as well as non-verbal means in distinct ways to communicate. The aim of this course is to expose students to communicative practices and indigenous theories of communicating in Africa and exploring their linguistic and cultural motivations. The discussion will be framed within intercultural pragmatics and ethnography of communication approaches to the study of communication. Ethnography of communication is the study of patterns of language use and communicative interaction, and of their relationships to other aspects of the socio-cultural contexts in which the communication takes place. Students will also be introduced to the methods used, theories tested and insights developed by practitioners of these approaches in a wide variety of settings from around Africa. Topics to be addressed include: communicative styles, ways of speaking, speech events, discourse routines of naming, addressing, greeting, parting, thanking, sympathising and showing respect; indirection strategies such as proverbs, euphemisms, allusions and the role of intermediaries such as griots in communication. Traditional and modern modes of mass communication: gong-gong; drum, horn and surrogate speech; telecommunications and visual media, computers and the internet. Cross-cultural communication and core cultural values will also be examined.

Course objectives

The students will become acquainted with the methods of research and the theories of ethnography of communication and cross-cultural pragmatics and their applications in different contexts in Africa.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and Work Group.

Assessment method

  • Participation in class and close engagement with the literature through peer to peer discussion on Discussion Board (three of these will be required).

  • A presentation of a research article on one of the topics handled in class.

  • A written exam based on the topics discussed in class.


  • Discussion board 10%

  • Class presentation 15%

  • Take-home exam 75%

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Bowe, Heather, Kylie Martin, and Howard Manns. 2014. Communication across cultures: Mutual understanding in a global world. Cambridge University Press, (second edition)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration A la carte and contractonderwijs

Aanmelden Studeren à la carte.
Aanmelden Contractonderwijs.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats