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Undergraduate Courses

Culture, Identity & Globalisation in Africa (AXL2200S)

Culture, Identity and Globalisation in Africa

What would it mean to think Africa differently? Where would we find the forms of language and the conceptual and methodological strategies which would allow us to do this? How do we think about Africa differently in a world that is increasingly perceived to be converging towards a ‘global village’? Is Africa losing its culture and identity in this ‘global village’? In the context of the current level of gobalisation, this course explores Africa’s position in and relations with other parts of the globalising world. With concrete examples, we explore some of the key political, economic, social, cultural and other effects of globalization in Africa. In looking at these issues, the course highlights on Africa’s experience of globalization, focusing on the challenges and opportunities which arise from the apparent growing interconnections.

Course code: AXL2200S
Type of degree: Undergraduate
Course convenor: A/Prof Horman Chitonge
Last updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Course outline:
We have all grown used to a particular way of thinking and writing about Africa: a set of images, tropes and ideas; a particular language; a particular version of Africa’s place (or lack of place) in history; a particular version of Africa’s participation (or lack of participation) in the major movements and phenomena of our time, modernity, development, globalization, etc. It is probably fair to describe these views as the “dominant discourses” in the sense that they shape many of the ideas and images of Africa that circulate in everyday life. These views have also been instrumental in shaping the construction and production of a range of knowledges about Africa, its people, landscapes, and fauna and flora.

We ask the question – which is also a challenge – how do we come up with new ways of thinking about Africa in the global arena? This is a question with both theoretical and methodological implications. On the one hand, we need a set of strategies and approaches to evade and outwit the dominant discourses; to get around them, to expose their terms and then (more difficult) to devise new frames of looking at, analyzing, writing, conceptualizing and imaging Africa. On the other hand, we need a set of guiding ideas, concepts, paradigms and the resources of a critical intellectual tradition – in other words, we need theory.


Week 1 (19-21 July): Introduction to Globalisation, Culture and Identity
A/Prof Horman Chitonge

Required Readings:

  • Held, D. & McGrew, A(2002). “Introduction: The Globalisation Debate”, D. Held & A. McGrew (eds.) in The Global Transformations Reader. Cambridge: Polity Press. pg, 3-38.
  • Huntington, S (1993). “The Clash of Civilisations.” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 72, No. 3. pg, 21-49

Further reading:

  • Bhagwati, Jadish(2005). “In Defense of Globalisation: It Has a Human Face.” A Lecture Delivered at Laterza, Rome, Italy.
  • Lieber, J. Robert & Weisberg, E. Ruth (2002). “Globalisation, Culture and Identity Crisis.” International Journal of Politics, Vol.16, No.2. pg273-296
  • Bhagwati, Jadish(2002). “Copping with Anti-Globalisation.” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2002. 1-22.

Week 2 (26-28 July): Africa in the Globalising World
A/Prof Horman Chitonge

Required Readings:

  • Mkandawire, Thandika (2002). “Globalisation and Africa’s Unfinished Agenda.” Macalester International, Vol. 7. Pages, 71-88.
  • Hendrickson, Roshen (2012). “Global Economies: Africa and the West” in Mbah, Emmanuel, & Steven. J. Salm(2012). Globalisation and the African Experience. Durham: Carolina Academic Press. Chapter 2. Pages, 40-57.

Further Reading:

  • Ajayi, Ibi (2003). Globalisation and Africa” Journal of African Economies, Vol. 12, No. 1. pg 120-150
  • Mkandawire, Thandika(2005). “Mal-adjusting African Economies and Globalisation.” African Development, Vol. XXX, Nos. 1 & 2. 9-29

Week 3 (2-4 August): The Challenges of Globalisation in Africa
Horman Chitonge

Required Readings:

  • Zeleza, Paul (2003). Re-thinking Africa’s Globalisation (Vol.1). Trenton: Africa World Press. Chapter 1. Pages, 1-25.
  • Bush, Ray (2008). “Africa and Globalisation” Soundings, Issue 39. pg 20-31.

Further Reading:

  • Ouattara, Alassane (1997). “The challenges of Globalisation for Africa.” A paper presented at the Southern Africa Economic Summit, Harare, Zimbabwe May 12.
  • Callaghy, Thomas M (2009). “Africa and the World Political Economy: Still Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place” in J. W. Harbeson & D. Rothchild (editors) Africa in the World Politics: Reforming the Political Order. Boulder: Westview Press. Chapter 3.

Week 4 (10-11 August): Globalisation and its Discontentment: The African Experience
A/Prof Horman Chitonge

Required Readings:

  • Ibrahim A. Alhaji (2013). “The Impact of Globalisation on Africa.” International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. 3, No.15. 85-93.
  • Stiglitz, Joseph(2002). Globalisation and its Discontents. London: Pengiun Press. Chapter 2.

Further Reading:

  • De Beer, CS (2005). “Africa in the Globalising World: Digital Divide or Human Divide?”
  • Sundaram, J.K, Schwank, O. & Arnim, R. (2011). Globalisation and Development in Africa. DESA Working Paper No, 102.

Week 5 (16-18 August): African Political Systems in the Context of Globalisation
A/Prof Horman Chitonge

Required Readings:

  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA, 2007). The Relevancy of African Traditional Institutions of Governance. ECA: Addis Ababa. Pages 1-15.
  • Thiel, M. & Coate, Roger(2010). “Identity Politics and Political Identities: Local Expressions in a Globalising World” in M. Thiel & R. Coate (eds.) Identity Politics in the Age of Globalisation. London: First Forum Press. pg1-28.

Further Reading:

  • United Nations Public Administration Network (2002). “The Challenges of Globalisation in Africa” What Role for Civil Society and other Stakeholders?” Addis Ababa. (available at ) 06/07.15
  • Bohler-MullerNarnia and OlorunjuPhindile(2011). “Swaziland: The Last Gasp of an Absolute Monarchy?” African Institute of South Africa, Briefing No.54. 1-10.

Week 6 (23-25 August): Youth and Globalization in Africa
Dr Divine Fuh

Required Readings:

  • Durham, D. (2000). Youth and the social imagination in Africa: Introduction to parts 1 and 2. Anthropological quarterly, 73(3), 113-120.
  • Fuh, D. (2012). The Prestige Economy: Veteran Clubs and Youngmen’s Competition in Bamenda, Cameroon. Urban Forum, Springer vol.23, pg.501–526. DOI 10.1007/s12132-012-9157-x.

Further Readings:

  • Honwana, A. M. (2012). The time of youth: Work, social change, and politics in Africa. Kumarian Press Pub. Ch.1
  • Amin, J. A. (2012). Understanding the protest of February 2008 in Cameroon. Africa Today, 58(4), 20-43.
  • Van Dijk, R., de Bruijn, M., Cardoso, C., & Butter, I. (2011). Introduction: ideologies of youth. Africa Development, 36(3-4), 1-18.
  • Soudien, C. (2001). Certainty and ambiguity in youth identities in South Africa: discourses in transition. Discourse, 22(3), 311-326.

Mid-semester Break: 28 August 2016 - 3 September 2016

Week 7 (6-8 September): Identity Dynamics in Africa
Dr Zuziwe Msomi

Required readings:

  • Jenkins, Richard. 2008. ‘Identity Matters,’ pp. 1-15 in Social IdentityRoutledge: London
  • Comaroff, Jean and Comaroff, John. 2009. Chapter 2, ‘Three or Four things about ethno-futures’ pp 6-21 in Ethnicity, Inc. University of Kwazulu-Natal Press, Scottsville, South Africa.

Further Reading:

  • Sharp John & Emile Boonzaier, 1994, ‘Ethnic Identity as Performance: Lessons From Namaqualand’. Journal of Southern African Studies 20(3):405-415.

Documentary: Africa Meet Africa (Venue TBC)

Week 8 (13-15September): Popular Culture and Identity in Africa
Ms Zuziwe Msomi

Required reading:

  • Barber, Karin (ed.), 1997, ‘Introduction: Views of the Field’, In Readings in African Popular Culture. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana Univ. Press. pp.1-9.
  • Fabian, Johannes 1978. Popular Culture in Africa: Findings and Conjectures. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute

Further Reading:

  • SimoneAbdouMaliq, 2008, ‘Some Reflections on Making Popular Culture in Urban Africa’, African Studies Review, Volume 51, Number 3, December 2008. pp. 75-89.
  • Gilbert, Jane (2006). “Two Worlds: Integration, Synthesis or Conflict? Psychological Perspectives on Cultural Identity in Africa” in T. Lyons and G. Pye (eds.). Africa on the Global Stage. Trenton: Africa World Press. Chapter 4.

Week 9 (20-22 September): Globalisation and Knowledge Production in Africa
A/Prof Harry Garuba

Required Reading:

  • Garuba, Harry (2012). “African Studies, Area Studies and the Logic of the Disciplines” in T. Nhlapo & H. Garuba (editors) African Studies in the PostColonial University. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press. Chapter 3.

Further Reading:

  • Praeg, Leonard (2012). “African, Epistemic Shifts and the Politics of Knowledge Production” in T. Nhlapo & H. Garuba (editors) African Studies in the Post-Colonial University. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press. Chapter 4.

Week 10 (27-29 September): African Intellectual Project in the Context of Globalisation
A/Prof Harry Garuba

Required Reading:

  • Zeleza, Paul (2003). Re-thinking Africa’s Globalisation (Vol.1). Trenton: Africa World Press. Chapter 1. Pg 45-61
  • Nyamnjoh, Francis(2012). “”Potted Plants in Greenhouses: A Critical Reflection on the Resilience of Colonial Education in Africa.” Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol. 47, No.2. 129-154.

Further Reading:

  • Mbah, Emmanuel, & Steven. J. Salm (2012). “The Centralisation of Africa and the Intellectualisation of Blackness.” Chapter 10

Week 11 (4-6 October): Globalisation and the Language Question in Africa
Prof Ana Deumert

Required Reading:

  • Fanon, Franz(1967). Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press. Chapter 1.
  • Bhabha, Homi(1984). “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse.” October, Vol. 28. 125-133.

Further Reading:

  • Negash, Ghirmai(2005). “Globalisation and the Role of African Languages for Development.” Conference Paper.

Week 12 (11-13 October): Is Africa Rising?
A/Prof Horman Chitonge

Required Readings:

Further Reading:

  • Olokushi, Adebayo(2009). “Globalisation, Equity and Development: Some Reflections on the African Experience” in D. Seck & D. Busari(eds.) Growth and Development in Africa. Asmara: Africa World Press. Pg 1-25.

NB: Lectures End on October 17. Exams begin on October 24 and end on November 13.


Course lecturers:

  • A/Prof Harry Garuba
  • Prof Ana Deumert
  • Dr Divine Fuh
  • Ms Zuziwe Msomi

Course administrator:

Lecture times:

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
Additional times may be arranged for screening of films or guest lectures.

Lecture venues: Chemical Engineering Seminar Room (CENG SEM), Chemical Engineering Building above Snape Building.

Required Readings:

  • The Global Transformation Reader (any edition) by David Held & Anthony McGrew (editors)
  • Mbah, Emmanuel, & Steven. J. Salm (2012). Globalisation and the African Experience. Durham: Carolina Academic Press.


There are 10 tutorials for the course as a whole. Attendance at all lectures and tutorials is compulsory. Apologies for missed sessions will be accepted only when accompanied by a doctor’s note. All tutorial assignments are available on Vula.

Course Readings:

All the required readings for the course are available on Vula (see lecture programme below). Weekly readings must be done in advance of lectures and tutorials. Additional readings are not provided, but you are encouraged to read them.

Assessment Requirements:

  • Three short assignments – 10% each
  • A research project – 20%
  • A final exam – 50%

You must submit each of the three assignments to your tutor by the end of day on which the assignment is due (see below). Details about the research project will be provided on Vula.

Assignment due dates:
Assignment 1: Friday, 12 August 2016
Assignment 2: Friday, 2 September 2016
Assignment 3: Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Research Project Paper: Tuesday, 20 October 2016

A cover page and plagiarism form needs to be filled out and attached to the front of your assignment (downloadable from the VULA site under ‘Resources’).

Please Note: It is the policy of Centre for African Studies not to grant extensions on due dates other than in the case of medical emergencies or on compassionate grounds. A doctor’s note is required in the case of medical emergencies. Late work will be penalised by 10% per day.

Be sure to consult the examination timetable for the date and venue of the final examination. You must be prepared to make yourself available for re-examination, which affects all borderline candidates. This normally takes place the week following the examination period. Students doing the course will be expected to keep a watch on the media, to attend public meetings, performances, CAS seminar series, workshops and exhibitions which are part of the CAS Gallery programme.