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Communication in Africa



Languages and cultures use verbal as well as on-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 iwithin 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.


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.



Mode of instruction

Lecture and Work Group.

Course Load

Total: 140h (5 EC)
Seminars: 26h
Exam: 2h
Literature: 112h

Assessment method

Written exam.
Resit: written exam

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.


Dr. F.K. Ameka

Coordinator of Studies: P.C. Lai LL.M. MSc

Education Administration Office: van Wijkplaats