Africa in the World

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

This module aims to offer a broad understanding to the study of Africa in the world. Students will be able to gain insight into the key themes, debates and concepts of the changing continent.

Key themes will include: Continuity and Change, Culture, Society and Communication, Translocality, Boundaries and Borders, Migration and Trade, Conceptions of Africa as Physical, Cultural and Social Space.

We will look at different perceptions and representations of Africa, and at connections and intersections between Africa and the wider world. Taking the continent as a starting point, we will explore both global connections and specific regional, sub-regional and local contexts. Our discussion will be informed by a range of sources and in particular by scholarship from Africa.

This module will sensitize students to the diverse perspectives and experiences of societies on the continent. Students will gain insight into topical issues on Africa as they situate the continent within global debates.

This module should appeal to students who are interested in understanding issues related to Africa’s heritage, the contemporary dynamics in the continent and the role they can play as global change makers.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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

  • LO1. demonstrate an understanding of the core issues in the study of Africa
  • LO2. show an awareness of the range of approaches used in studying Africa
  • LO3. demonstrate specialist knowledge of the themes and concepts and debates on Africa
  • LO4. relate academic analysis to contemporary social and political issues;
  • LO5. demonstrate skills in analytical reading, writing, and presentation


10 weeks of 1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar per week (total of 20 contact teaching hours).

Scope and syllabus

Week 1: What is Africa in the world
Week 2: Pre-colonialism, colonialism and radicalism
Week 3: Culture and memory
Week 4: Language and society
Week 5: Migration and global challenges
Week 6: Climate change and the environment
Week 7: Contemporary African and diasporic literature and translation
Week 8: Gender and intersectionality
Week 9: Rhythms, films and popular culture
Week 10: Is Africa Rising?

Method of assessment

  • 1000-word Positionality Project due in Term 2 (40%)
  • 3000-word Final Essay due in Term 3 (60%)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

Core reading

  • Ball, Arnetha, Sinfree Makoni, Geneva Smitherman, Arthur K. Spears (eds). 2003. Black Linguistics: Language, society, and politics in Africa and the Americas . London: Routledge.
  • Lüpke, Friederike and Anne Storch. 2013 Repertoires and choices in African languages . Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
  • Makalela, Leketi (ed.). 2018. Shifting lenses: Multilanguaging, decolonization and education in the global South. Cape Town: Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS).
  • Makalela, Leketi. 2018. Community elders’ narrative accounts of ubuntu translanguaging: Learning and teaching in African education. International Review of Education 64:823–843.
  • Makoni, Sinfree and Alastair Pennycook. 2006. Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages. In Makoni, Sinfree and Alastair Pennycook (eds). 2006. Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages . Bristol, Blue Ridge Summit: Multilingual Matters, 1-41. https://doi-
  • Mbembe, Achille. 2001. On the Postcolony . Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  • Mudimbe, V. Y. 1988. The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge (African Systems of Thought) . London: James Currey.
  • Musila, Grace A. 2019. Against collaboration – or the native who wanders off. Journal of African Cultural Studies 31:3, 286-293, DOI: 10.1080/13696815.2019.1633283
  • Nolte, Insa. 2019. The future of African Studies: what we can do to keep Africa at the heart of our research. Journal of African Cultural Studies 31:3, 296-313, DOI: 10.1080/13696815.2019.1584552
  • Ranger, Terence. 1983. The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa. In Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds.) The Invention of Tradition . Cambridge: CUP, 211-262.

Additional reading

  • Bamgbose, Ayo. 2000. Language and Exclusion. The Consequences of Language Policies in Africa . Lit Verlag.
  • Comaroff, Jean and John L. Comaroff. 2012. Theory from the South. Or, How Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa . London: Routledge.
  • Desai, Gaurav and Adeline Masquelier (eds.) Critical Terms for the Study of Africa. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
  • Goldstone, Brian and Juan Obarrio (eds.) 2017. African Futures: Essays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility . Chicago: Chicago University Press.
  • Herbst, Jeffrey. 1989. The Creation and Maintenance of National Boundaries in Africa. International Organization 43(4): 673–692. JSTOR . Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.
  • Makalela, Leketi. 2016. Ubuntu translanguaging: An alternative framework for complex multilingual encounters . Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 34(3): 187-196. DOI: 10.2989/16073614.2016.1250350.
  • Nyerere, Julius K. 1967. Education for Self-Reliance. Dar es Salaam: Government Printers.
  • Simpson, Andrew (ed.) 2008. Language and National Identity in Africa . Oxford: OUP.
  • Vigouroux, Cécile and Salikoko Mufwene, eds., Globalization and Language Vitality: Perspectives from Africa , London: Continuum.


Dr Saheed Bello


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules