Newly Approved African Studies Program Requirements
The Africana Studies Department is multidisciplinary, with some of its faculty holding joint appointments in other departments. The department's offerings thus range across the traditional disciplines of art history, history, literature, musicology, philosophy, religion, health and sociology. These disciplines are integrated by certain themes that underscore the uniqueness of the department. First, subject matter focuses on African peoples and cultures and peoples of African descent in the New World. Second, the department's courses offer a non-Eurocentric and non-racial approach to the investigations, interpretations and understanding of the experiences of African peoples and of the wider world. Third, departmental courses broaden the scope and range of traditional disciplines and offer a corrective to those disciplines in which the knowledge of the presence, roles, cultural contributions and experiences of African peoples and their descendants in the African Diaspora to world civilization have been omitted or neglected.
The department attracts students of all ethnic backgrounds. Both minority and non-minority students benefit from exposure to academic materials and perspectives not otherwise available to them.
All the department's courses satisfy Harpur College writing requirements. A single, double or cross-disciplinary major (BA program) and minor in Africana Studies are available.
Requirements for Africana Studies Major
For the major, 11 courses (44 credits) must be taken in the department from department faculty only. These courses should be in the 100-400-levels reflecting academic growth, progressive competence, and a course distribution that reflects the African and African Diaspora focus of the department. Of these, students should take:
A. Two generalist introductory courses:
- AFST 101 Introduction to Africana Studies, or
- AFST 171 Introduction to African Religion, or
- AFST 175 Introduction to African Art, or
- AFST 180R Music of Africa, Caribbean & Latin America
B. (i) One disciplinary introductory permanent course:
- AFST 212 African Intellectual Traditions, or
- AFST 273 Introduction to African Literature, or
- AFST 283A Introduction to African History
(ii) One special topics introductory course:
- AFST 203 Afro-Brazilian & Caribbean Religions, or
- AFST 205 African & Western Religions, or
- AFST 235 Muslim Peoples, or
- AFST 251 Islamic Cultures in Africa, or
- AFST 280D Youth, Popular Culture in North Africa, or
- AFST 280F Introduction to African Cinema, or
- AFST 284C Black Nationalism
C. (i) AFRICA: Select two topic courses. Prerequisite: Students must have taken relevant 100-or 200•level Africana Studies courses.
- AFST 317 African Women & Feminism
- AFST 362 Literature of N. Africa & M. East
- AFST 367 African Kingship
- AFST 373 The African Novel
- AFST 376 African Cultural Traditions
- AFST 377 West African History, 16th-20th Centuries
- AFST 378 African Metaphysics
- AFST 380A Music Traditions of Africa
- AFST 380N Encountering the Orient
- AFST 386F Issues in Feminine Writings & Film
- AFST 389F Issues in African American Health
AFRICA DIASPORA: Select two topics courses. Prerequisite: Students must have taken relevant 100-or 200-level Africana Studies courses.
- AFST 370 Convivencia in Islamic Spain
- AFST 372 Arabic Civilization & Culture
- AFST 375 Muslim Social History to the 19th Century
- AFST 379 Contemporary Art-African Diaspora
- AFST 380B Global Africa in the Long 1960s
- AFST 380E The World in the 1960's
- AFST 384H Global Black Movements
- AFST 385E African American Heritage in Poetry & Jazz
- AFST 386A Making of the African Diaspora
- AFST 381A Oral Histories & African Diaspora
- AFST 477 Mediumistic Traditions
- AFST 480A Global Health
- AFST 480M History & Memory
D. AFST 490 Senior Seminar, and any two advanced 400-level courses.
E. At least seven of the eleven Africana courses should be in the 300-400 levels and these should follow the Distribution Requirement.
Students must earn a grade of C or above in courses fulfilling the major requirement. No courses fulfilling the major requirement may be taken Pass/Fail. Only one independent study course may be counted in fulfillment of the requirements for the major and this must be by an Africana Studies faculty. Students must take 4 of 8 courses at Binghamton University for the major. Students may take cross-listed courses of non-Africana Studies faculty but only as electives. When appropriate, students can petition to have a different course count as fulfilling requirements for courses in Group A or B.
Departmental Honors Program
Exceptional students majoring in Africana Studies are considered for admission to the honors program upon the successful completion of six semesters or 96 credit hours (including at least 32 in Africana Studies).
The honors program consists of two courses taken in the senior year: AFST 497, Advanced Independent Study/Honors Research, and AFST 499, Honors Thesis. Honors in Africana Studies are awarded to students who receive at least a B+ grade in Advanced Independent Study/Honors Research and at least an A– in Honors Thesis.
Students who wish to enroll in the honors program must have a cumulative and major/program 3.5 grade point average, must be recommended to the program by a faculty who will take responsibility for directing that student's honor's thesis, and must be granted permission to participate in the program by the department chairperson.
Interested students should apply in the spring semester of the junior year to the undergraduate studies director who solicits a sample of the student's written work in Africana Studies courses and two letters of recommendation from appropriate faculty. Upon acceptance, a Change of Major, Degree or Specialization form is submitted to the Office of the Registrar.
Requirements for Africana Studies Minor
The minor in Africana Studies is designed to give students with majors in other fields a chance to have a supplementary discipline and focus that may combine their academic interests as well as future professional concerns. Students develop their programs with the advice of departmental faculty. Students may, for example, take a history, PPL, sociology, literature, music, women studies, or religion concentration with the supervision of the Africana Studies faculty.
A minimum of six courses (24 credits) is required, including:
- any one Africana Studies course at the 100-level.
- any two courses at the 200-level course
- any two courses at the 300 upper-level
- any one course at the 400 upper-level courses.
Students must earn a grade of C or above in courses fulfilling the minor requirement. No courses fulfilling the minors requirement may be taken Pass/Fail. Students must take 3 of 6 courses at Binghamton University for the major.
Africana Studies (Undergraduate) Courses
These are the courses that count for the Major and Minor
AFST 101, INTRODUCTION TO AFRICANA STUDIES
A broad survey of some of the major themes in African, African American, and other African diasporic experiences over a period of several hundred years. It centers on systems, movements and ideas that have transcended national, continental and oceanic boundaries—including slavery and emancipation, politics and religion, culture and identity, colonialism and nationalism. Overall, the course is an introduction to the making of the modern world, from the standpoint of black experiences globally.
AFST 171, INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN RELIGION
Wallis Budge defined African religion as "Ancestor Worship," while a Greek historian also wrote that blacks were "the first to...honor the gods and to hold sacrifices and processions and festivals and other rites by which men honor the deity." Thus, students are introduced to African conceptions of God and gods, ancestors and elders, witchcraft, sacrifices and wellness rituals.
AFST 175, INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN ART
A survey of some of the key concepts in art and aesthetics in the African and African Diaspora, focusing on certain art works and art forms. It attends to three basic questions: How was art conceived of historically? How was it conceived of in different African cultures and in the diaspora? And what are the critical aesthetic concepts and responses that are relevant in art appreciation in these regions of the world. It also examines the dispersal and deployment of African symbols and ideas in the works of artists around the world.
AFST 180R, MUSIC OF AFRICA, CARIBBEAN & LATIN AMERICA
An introduction to the study of world music through an examination of both traditional and popular music styles from different music cultures within Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas, with emphasis on the specific social and cultural backgrounds that have generated and sustained them. Topics include the influences between traditional and popular music, the social status and training of musicians and performers cross-culturally, the world music business, and musical exchanges between musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds.
AFST 188B, AFRICAN MUSIC ENSEMBLE
This ensemble focuses on various styles of traditional music from the African continent and the Diaspora including Cuba, Brazil, and Haiti. Emphasis is on rhythmic development, as well as notation, and ensemble cohesiveness. It explores both drumming and melodic instruments such as the xylophone and Mbira, as well as singing. No prior musical experience is necessary.
AFST 203, AFRO-BRAZILIAN & CARIBBEAN RELIGIONS
In a journey more than geographic, Africans in the New World lost all symbolic means of their religious expressions. Still, African religions and cultures survived to play critical roles in forging new religions. How? For answers, students explores the hermeneutical ways in which African descended groups contextualized their environment and created syncretistic religions like Candomblé, Santeria, Voodoo, Obeah, and Rastafari.
AFST 205, AFRICAN & WESTERN RELIGIONS
The course introduces students to African religion, Christianity and Islam in Africa, and the resultant religious and cultural transformation of Africa. This "triple" religious and cultural heritage has seriously affected African attitude toward religion and spirituality. Therefore, the course explores African theological concepts and ancestor worship, Christian and Islamic beliefs, and the dynamic transformation of Christianity and Islam on Africans.
AFST 212, AFRICAN INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS
Introduction to key ideas in African intellectual and philosophical traditions, centered on conceptions of person, society, community, knowledge, art, gender relations and spirituality. Readings will vary from year to year at the discretion of instructor and are determined in advance.
AFST 235 (also HIST 235), MUSLIM PEOPLES
Cross-disciplinary survey of Muslim people from seventh to 20th century. Part I introduces Islam as a religious, ethical, legal, social, political and economic system. Part II surveys Muslim people and communities in Central Asia, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South America, Sudan, Swahili-speaking East Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Topics include ethnicity, gender, relations with the West, legal and social reforms, internal Muslim/non-Muslim relations and Muslim perceptions of the future.
AFST 251, ISLAMIC CULTURES IN AFRICA
Islam has a rich cultural and artistic heritage in Africa. With a history that goes back to the seventh century, it is now a vital part of the African cultural landscape. This introductory course explores a range of Islamic cultural productions in different regions of Africa—North, West, East and South—from the advent of Islam to modern times. It will focus on not only the local practices of Islam but on literature, music, architecture and films in studying the syncretism of Islam and indigenous African religions and/or cultures, and in highlighting the unifying cultural influences of the religion. The course will also attend to the distinctive character of contemporary, cultural productions in music, film, architecture and literature in large African metropolises with significant Islamic populations, and it will devote attention to the underlying factors and issues of artistic production.
AFST 273, INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN LITERATURE
Introduction to the major forms of literary activity on the African continent. Begins with an examination of the oral literature, then moves to a study of modern African creative writing through readings of some published fiction, drama and poetry, paying close attention to the ways in which the writers relate to the oral traditions.
AFST 280D, YOUTH, POPULAR CULTURE IN NORTH AFRICA
This course will provide students an introduction to critical issues and approaches in the study of recent North Africa and Arabic youth culture, their response and participation in the modern popular culture of that area. We will explore the ways in which young North Africans and youth in the Arab world [Arabs] are both users of and are used by popular culture. As well, we will explore their attitudes, interests and aspirations through the various media: film, TV, print, music to examine cultural expressions within young people's groups throughout the North African and Arabic World. Collective and individual responses to the post-colonial nation state and globalization are among the themes we will examine. The course will also compare cultural characteristics (shared and regional) as manifested in new identities, traditions, customs, social character, artistic and creative expression and—even—language.
AFST 280F, INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN CINEMA
This course offers a basic view of the development of the art of the film in Africa. We shall examine the history of the form on the continent, then explore its major themes and concerns with showings of several videos from various parts of Africa to ensure adequate coverage of the continent.
AFST 282 (also ENG 282), AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE 1920 TO PRESENT
Introduces African American literature of the period through poetry, the novel, short story and drama in the context of social, political and literary developments. Topics include the Harlem Renaissance, Richard Wright and the Naturalists, the Black Arts Movement, black women writers.
AFST 283A, INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN HISTORY
African social, political and economic history from the Pharaonic period to the mid-20th century. Social, political and economic organization; religion and philosophy; education; women's roles and achievements; inter-African and international relations; slavery; internal and external migrations; resistance to European rule; nationalism; liberation movements; effects of European rule; problems of independence and post- independence; African peoples' contributions to civilization.
AFST 284C, BLACK NATIONALISM IN THE UNITED STATES
This course traces the evolution of black nationalism from the era of the United States revolution to the 1960s. Though a persistent theme in the African American experience, black nationalism has tended to become especially influential at certain historical junctures, most notably the 1850s, the 1920s, and the 1960s. The course is centered on these junctions, called black nationalist moments, and is organized around the core issues of race, nationality, class, and gender.
AFST 317, AFRICAN WOMEN AND FEMINISM
An interdisciplinary approach to issues of importance to African women, drawing extensively from a range of theoretical writings, literary and/or filmic works to study the political, social and economic roles of women. Paying close attention to culture, it examines the impact of colonialism, nationalism, dictatorship and military rule on women's autonomy, agency and rights within and outside the family.
AFST 362, LITERATURE OF N. AFRICA & THE M. EAST
The course will focus on the Arabic literature of North Africa and the Middle East and will provide an overview of the wide range and themes of this literature as presented by the authors whose works we will examine this semester. The course will focus on a century of modern Arabic literature and the development of representation of women, men in their various ascribed roles in Arabic-Islamic societies and how these roles are being challenged by colonialism, post colonialism and Imperialims/globalization. The remarkable experiences the characters go through and the struggles that the writers document to make their voices heard within their respective societies is quite an achievement in its own. A new model of the Arabic person emerged encouraging (albeit timidly) both men and women to liberate themselves, manage their own lives, unravel societal hypocrisies and to do away with things past that restrict their pursuit of happiness and self-realization (e.g. career, social or political movement or, even, new styles of love and life defying convention and social norms). As the West grew more powerful it began launching expeditions to investigate how non-Western societies functioned and how to overcome them and eventually add them to its growing empires. The seminar explores many themes and works by Arabic writers who created new narratives, poetic and visual languages and a new consciousness about the modern Arabic World both in Africa and Asia. Some of the works we will read will examine not only the relationship of the West with the Arabic World, but issues that existed before colonialism and during the difficult birth of the various Arabic ¨Nation States¨.
AFST 367, AFRICAN KINGSHIP
As living ancestors, African kings and queens were seen as socio-political and spiritual leaders. However, the kingship nowadays does not enjoy the same power and authority as the past. Why? The course, therefore, studies divine kingship, systems of succession, king-making rites, and how the West undermined the authority of traditional rulers through policies like assimilation and direct and indirect rule.
AFST 370, CONVIVENCIA IN ISLAMIC SPAIN
This course acquaints students with the culture of cohabitation of Muslims, Christians and Jews in Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain & Portugal) and the contribution of each of the groups to its greatness.
AFST 372, ARABIC CIVILIZATION & CULTURE
This course aims to give an overview of the Civilization and Culture of the Arab people, starting with the advent of Islam—we will, nevertheless, examine pre-Islamic Arabic societies—and continuing through the present. A selection of texts—print and electronic in English—dealing with and pertaining to different aspects and areas of Arabic life, civilization and culture, will be read and discussed. These texts have been selected with the intent to compare and analyze approaches in those written by Arabic writers and those written by non-Arabic writers. Among the topics to be covered are—but not limited to: The origins of the Arabs; pre-Islamic Arab society; Arab-Islamic society and the Islamic Empire; Arab culture and its contribution to world culture; Baghdad and Cordoba; Arabic Africa; Some causes of decadence and fall of the Arab-Islamic Empire; Western Infiltration and Colonialism (18-20 C); "Independence" and the creation of Nation-States. We will also analyze and discuss modern post-colonial concerns and problems and challenges that the area has confronted in the wake of neo colonialism.
AFST 373, THE AFRICAN NOVEL
Exploration of the development of the novel in Africa. Formal growth of the genre from the oral narrative traditions of the continent, through its attachment to European forms, to its present achievement in blending various traditions in the articulation of key issues – such as colonialism and post-colonialism, social and political crisis, and the role of women – in contemporary African society.
AFST 375 (also HIST 375), MUSLIM SOCIAL HISTORY TO THE 19th CENTURY
Survey of evolution and development of selected Asian (Middle Eastern) and African Muslim societies from seventh to 19th century. Social structure institutions and concepts of Muslim societies. Prerequisites: at least sophomore standing. Recommended prerequisites: completion of basic course in history, sociology or anthropology.
AFST 376, AFRICAN CULTURAL TRADITIONS
Course examines African culture traditions through select representative African ethnic groups. It focuses on psychosocial and developmental ritual practices – gestation, naming, puberty, marriage, eldership, funerary and medico-magical rites – undergirding life cycles. The course looks at the viability of some of these cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (clitoridectomy), scarifications and killing and harvesting of albino bones for magico-medical rituals, as peoples attempt to re-order their lives in a rapidly changing world.
AFST 377 (also HIST 377), WEST AFRICAN HISTORY, 16th-20th CENTURIES
Course divided into two parts. Part I, survey of West African history, deals with social-political organization; trade; religion; kingdoms/empires/states; interstate and interregional relations; relations with Asia, Europe and Americas. Part II focuses on Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, and deals with servility/slavery; ethnic relations; education; women's activities; colonial impact; government; post-independence relations with selected Eastern and Western states and organizations.
AFST 378, AFRICAN METAPHYSICS
The course explores African view of the universe and the principles that shape the spiritual and corporeal worlds. Far from dualism or a bicameral cosmos, Africans perceive of the universe as a single cosmos, with the spiritual as their ideal home, however. This African perception of the universe also reflects their view of what it means to be a human. Thus, students are introduced to holistic personality concepts, their influence on society, religion, and the meaning of existence.
Prerequisite: AFST 171, Introduction to African Religion, or any 100- or 200-level Africana Studies course.
AFST 379, CONTEMPORARY ART: AFRICA/DIASPORA
This course explores contemporary visual arts of Africa and the African diaspora in the last three decades. It studies how African and African Diaspora artists and art theorists in Africa, Europe, America and the Caribbean have influenced and interacted with one another in this globalized world of migrations, global co-operations, biennales, and exhibitions. While studying how these interactions have been informed by the cultures and civilizations in the respective regions, the course also highlights the conceptual and methodological issues that are of interest to artists in this expansive tri-dimensional world.
AFST 380B, GLOBAL AFRICA IN THE LONG 1960s
The decade of the 1960s, along with the years before and after, were among the most tumultuous and epoch- making of the modern era. Indeed, the long 1960s marked something of a turning point, and its impact remains very much with us in ways large and small. This course focuses on the long 1960s in the black world – mainly Africa and the Americas – through an examination of various themes. Notable among those are decolonization and desegregation, the rise of new political and social movements, the emergence of novel cultural and artistic form, and the renaissance in feminism.
AFST 380N, ENCOUNTERING THE ORIENT
For centuries, Europe looked at the Arab-Islamic lands as a place of romance and exotic beings, a fascination that was mixed with fear and resentment that led to the demonization of both space and people. The course focuses on how Western travelers perceived the observed societies and people of North Africa and how they passed their perceptions to their countrymen.
AFST 381A, ORAL HISTORIES & AFRICAN DIASPORA
Course looks at the Black Experience in terms of oral histories provided by people who lived and worked during the 1940s through the 1960s; fighting for workers rights, human rights and diasporic workings of society and its views at the times. We will listen to recorded interviews, televised documentaries and readings from citizens who strove to achieve equality and peace through movements associated with the Black Movements during the early 1960s and beyond.
AFST 384H, GLOBAL BLACK MOVEMENTS
This course examines black movements globally over a three-decade period, from the end of World War II to the mid-1970s. Major themes include the impact of World War II and the Cold War on global Africa and on black movements, decolonization in Africa and the Caribbean, the challenges of independence, guerrilla warfare and national liberation in the African territories untouched by decolonization, apartheid in South Africa, Civil Rights in the United States, and Black Power in North America, South Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
AFST 385E, AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE IN POETY & JAZZ
Jazz music and poetry are two forms of artistic expression that have developed side by side in the movement of African American culture from the oral tradition. Following this parallel development through the crucial stages of African American history, the course examines the ways the two art forms have responded to successive social and political contexts; and some modes of interaction between the music and the poetry, especially in the phenomenon of "jazz poetry."
AFST 386A, MAKING OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
The seminar focuses on the central question of the identity of descendants of Africa ? Is this identity dependent on where these individuals live today or where they originated? Do they have a national or a global identity? Is it static or dynamic? What are the forces within and without these communities that shape this identity? Gender? Economics? Culture? We will also assess the ways in which scholars and other writers have formulated theories of the African Diaspora.
AFST 386F, ISSUES IN FEMININE WRITINGS & FILMS
Common themes found in writing and cinema by Arabic Women in the Middle East and North Africa include the questioning of tradition, recovery of identity, re-description of stereotypes and resistance to further "servitude/colonization". The themes beg immediate questions, such as recovery of identity from what? Re-description of which stereotypes? Resistance to which servitude and colonization? These questions—among many—are springboards to criteria that may be used to examine representative Middle Eastern and North African feminism, artistic and literary production by and about women such as fiction, essays, poems and films. Relations of the North African "plural" female self and other are expressed in formal properties as well as in the subject and contents of written as well as cinematic texts by those women.
AFST 389F, ISSUES IN AFRICAN AMERICAN HEALTH
This course is designed to address issues involved in the health of African Americans. Students will be provided with a comprehensive overview of historical forces and social factors related to the health behavior and status of African-Americans. Students will analyze the impact of cultural, educational, social, economic, political and environmental influences on health of African Americans. A multi-disciplinary perspective entailing history, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, biology and genetics, epidemiology, and public health will be offered by way of reading assignments, didactic instruction, class discussions and course assignments.
AFST 397, INDEPENDENT STUDY
Meets special needs and interests of advanced students on tutorial or seminar basis. It can only be taught by Africana faculty. Prerequisites: consent of instructor.
AFST 477, MEDIUMISTIC TRADITIONS
As seers, healers, reformers, musicians, and advisors, mediums announce the will of the ancestors and deities, perform rituals, call society to order, sing and dance to ancient tunes, and admonish elders and rulers to follow traditions of their ancestors. The course, then, is a critical study of the clerical vocation and role of mediums as final religious arbiters in Africa.
AFST 480A, GLOBAL HEALTH
This course is designed to explore the impact of globalization on health while examining the relationships between culture and health promotion/disease prevention issues globally. Students will analyze the cultural, educational, social, economic, political and environmental impact of health and development in Non-Western contexts. A multi-disciplinary perspective entailing but not limited to, history, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and public health will be offered by way of reading assignments, didactic instruction, class discussions, and course assignments.
AFST 481E, AFRICAN FEMINISM
Explores the development of feminist discourses in Africa with respect to problems in contemporary African social, political, and cultural life. Some of the key concerns center on the manipulation of tradition, family relations, cultural values, and the role of the law. The course examines how some of the compelling issues have engaged African women scholars as they battled the gender discrimination of the postcolonial state as well as of African men.
AFST 482B, IDEOLOGIES OF BLACK CREATIVITY
Seminar explores the underlying ideologies informing and regulating forms of creative expression in diverse regions of Africa and or the African Diaspora.
AFST 483E, AUTOBIOGRAPHIES – AFRICAN, AFRICAN AMERICAN, CARIBBEAN
The two basic objectives of this course are (1) to understand the logic and nature of autobiographical statements – why do people write autobiographies, and to what extent are these autobiographies accurate accounts of their lives? And (2) to understand the peculiar nature of autobiographies produced in black societies with histories of racial or colonial domination. What do they have in common with standard Western autobiographies, and what are the noticeable differences between them?
AFST 490, SENIOR SEMINAR
Advanced general survey and analysis of critical problems in Africana studies. Prerequisites: senior standing.
AFST 491, TEACHING PRACTICUM
Independent study through teaching in particular Africana studies course. Course instructor directs students in preparation of syllabi, other course materials, devising and reading examinations; lecturing and/or leading
discussion; academic counseling. May be repeated for a total of no more than eight credits. Credit may not be earned in conjunction with course in which student is currently enrolled. Does not satisfy major or Harpur
Distribution requirements. Prerequisites: consent of instructor. Pass/Fail only.
AFST 495, INTERNSHIP PROJECT
Internship project under guidance of faculty member, in an institution, agency or program. Written analytical term report of project work required. Prerequisites: prior arrangement with and consent of chosen instructor. Four credits of internship may be counted toward major.
AFST 497, ADVANCED INDEPENDENT STUDY
Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
AFST 499, HONORS THESIS
Honors essay for seniors, under supervision of faculty member. Prerequisites: approval must be given by director of undergraduate studies and the faculty member concerned.