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The Field of African Studies and Interdisciplinarity Part 1. Aims and results of Africanist research


Admission requirements

Free and compulsory for students enrolled in the ResMA African Studies program and for students of 1-year MA African Studies. Those from other MA programs may be admitted with prior registration (contact coordinator)


The course contrasts the intellectual homogenization of Africa created by colonialism and post-colonial politics with the great diversity of the continent. The course addresses the epistemology of African Studies (construction of knowledge in/on Africa) in a series of related themes that all researchers in Africa need to know: (a) the imagery of Africa in different disciplines and the intertextual relationships with images and discourses in the arts; (b) local forms of knowledge in Africa; © the persistence and history of the dichotomy of the “modern” and the “traditional” (d) the longue durée of the ecology and economy of the African continent; (e) the study of society and environment in Africa and (f) armed conflicts and the state in Africa. These themes will be illustrated on the basis of ongoing and recently completed research.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students
a) have insights into the various ways Africa was and is looked at throughout time;
b) are familiar with the nature and controversies of African Studies.


Mondays: 13.00 – 16.30 ; Thursdays: 11.00 – 15.00

Mode of instruction

Lecture and workshop by students:

The course consists of nine lectures and four presentations by students. The lectures are given on Mondays (13.00-16.30 hrs) some on Thursdays (11.00-15.00 hrs). The students present their assignment papers in workshop meetings on Thursdays. The assignment papers are then revised on the basis of feedback during the presentations and submitted (via Blackboard) in written form for evaluation on the next Monday.

Course Load

  • The course comprises 10 EC and the total course load is thus 280 hrs

  • 52 hrs of these will be spent attending lectures and seminars (7 ½ hrs per week x 7 weeks)

  • 100 hrs to be spent on studying compulsory literature: 90 pages literature per week

  • 118 hrs research and writing assignment papers

  • 8 hrs will be spent in group feedback sessions on assignment presentation

  • 2 hrs will be spent on mentor sessions and course evaluation

Assessment method

  • Assessment of four papers plus presentation skills. Three of the four papers are presented in class before submission for evaluation.

  • The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of marks for the four papers.

  • If the weighted average for the course is insufficient (i.e. less than 6) the student is allowed to resit for examination by rewriting the papers for the parts that were insufficient. This will be done in consultation with the course instructor.


Students registered for the course will be enrolled. Course information, teaching material, assignment papers and feedback are exchanged via Blackboard.

Reading list

A list of compulsory and recommended articles is stated in the detailed course programme for each lecture (the programme is made available via Blackboard, latest a week before the courses start). The material are available in the different libraries of the University and the African Studies Centre. Students must study the compulsory literature of each lecture beforehand.


Enrollment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.

Prospective students, please check the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to apply.


Dr. Azeb Amha
Academic Coordinator
P O Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, NL
Tel. +31-71-527-3364


Among the instructors listed above, one will be the course instructor and s/he will streamline the link among the various guest lectures and look into the evaluation of students’ papers and make sure they get comprehensive and timely feedback on their essays.