SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

International Politics of Africa

Module Code:
15PPOH078
Credits:
15
FHEQ Level:
7
Year of study:
Any
Taught in:
Term 1

This module examines the international politics of Africa since independence. It provides historical grounding in the ideas that African activists developed and the campaigns they fought, against slavery and colonialism that secured the independence of the continent, and then considers how independent African states dealt with the context that faced them: considering conflict and cooperation between African states, their insertion into the international order and their efforts to navigate and contest that order. In the second part of the module the emphasis shifts to the period since the end of the Cold War, considering increased Western military and broader political intervention in Africa, and African efforts to reckon with Western 'monopoly diplomacy' both through the search for 'African solutions' in regional and continental bodies including the African Union, and through relations with rising powers including Russia and China.  Throughout, emphasis is placed on the critical questioning of mainstream orthodoxies, both academic and policy-oriented.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Acquire a body of knowledge, applicable in both academic and policy/practitioner roles about: the history of African states' relations with each other and with non-African states; the major agendas of African collective diplomacy; and contemporary controversies. 
  • Acquire an understanding of different analytical approaches to studying international politics, and sensitivity in the integration of theoretical and empirical materials.
  • Develop argumentation skills through structured critical and constructive discussion and exchange of ideas and interpretive angles with peers
  • Enhance writing skills that convey complex and nuanced insights and demonstrate analytical work at greater depth through a long essay at the end of the module

Workload

One 2 hours seminar per week

Scope and syllabus

  • Africa in the World: agency in tight corners?
  • Colonialism, Post-Colonialism, Neo-Colonialism…
  • Pan-Africanism, African nationalism and decolonisation
  • African collective diplomacy - The Third World campaign and its frustrations  
  • Africa in the Cold War
  • Africa after the Cold War: Facing neoliberalism at the end of history
  • Humanitarian Intervention in practice
  • African solutions to African problems? Regional peacekeeping
  • The War on Terror
  • African possibilities at the end of the end of history

Method of assessment

Essay 100%

 

Suggested reading

Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. J. (2020). The cognitive empire, politics of knowledge and African intellectual productions: reflections on struggles for epistemic freedom and resurgence of decolonisation in the twenty-first century. Third World Quarterly, 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2020.1775487


Clapham, C. (2020). Decolonising African Studies? Journal of Modern African Studies, 58(1), 137–153. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022278X19000612


Frederick Cooper, ‘Africa and the Nation State’, Chapter 3 of Africa in the World ,Harvard University Press, 2014. Ebook via SOAS Library: https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/soas-ebooks/reader.action?ppg=81&docID=3301421&tm=1538179138535  


Christian Høgsbjerg, Remembering the Fifth Pan-African Congress, Leeds African Studies Bulletin 77 (Winter 2015/16), pp. 119-139. http://lucas.leeds.ac.uk/article/remembering-the-fifth-pan-african-congress-christian-hogsbjerg/  


Adom Gotachew, (2019) ‘Chapter 4’, Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination, Princeton University Press. https://library.soas.ac.uk/Record/10352156. 


Odd Arne Westad, (2005) The Global Cold War, Cambridge University Press, 2005. Chapter 7 (The Horn). https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/soas-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1103797 


Harry Verhoeven, Lydiah Kemunto Bosire & Sharath Srinivasan (2009) Understanding Sudan's Saviors and Survivors: Darfur in the Crossfire between Humanitarian Fundamentalism and Khartoum's Divide and Rule, Review of African Political Economy, 36:122, 630-635, DOI: 10.1080/03056240903346244 (including the Mahmood Mamdani reprint provided as context for the piece)


T. K. Tieku, ‘Explaining the Clash and Accommodation of interests of major actors in the creation of the African Union’, African Affairs, 103, 2004, pp.249-267


Ricardo Soares de Oliveira & Harry Verhoeven (2018) Taming Intervention: Sovereignty, Statehood and Political Order in Africa, Survival, 60:2, 7-32, DOI: 10.1080/00396338.2018.1448558

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