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African Studies interdisciplinary undergraduate major rolled out

26 Apr 2017 - 16:15

The first ever African Studies inter-disciplinary undergraduate major for UCT has been rolled out this term. This course is the result of intense formal discussion (under the academic leadership of African Studies and CAS) with colleagues across the University in 2015 with the purpose of developing this new and relevant curriculum offer.

AXL1201F REPRESENTATIONS OF AFRICA has successfully commenced with a total of 50 students registered for the course which counts 18 NQF credits at HEQSF level 5.

Presented in collaboration with the Humanities Education Development Unit (HEDU), the course focuses on the ways in which Africa has been imagined and represented across the ages. Drawing on key texts from the creative and performing arts, the course explores specific depictions of Africa and Africans in each era and opens up questions about the relationship between arts and society. It examines African self-representations alongside representations that focus on Africa as a site of difference or ‘othering’.

Topics include: What is representation?; Images of Slavery; Afropessism/Afroromanticism; Travel Writing and Tourism; Visual Arts; Anti-colonialism/ Nationalism in film.  This first-time African Studies Major has the full public backing of the Vice Chancellor as one of the key curriculum transformation projects for UCT, and aims to present a tangible response to the students’ justifiable and increasingly impatient demand for decolonised curricula and institutional transformation. The lecture method is engaging and practical, allowing dialogue with students in an interactive and safe space.

Preliminary informal feedback on the course from students:

 ‘There is a lot you learn in this course, like the SS Mendi exhibition…narratives that are not known, that were not recognised by Apartheid. There are many things we do not know about. I feel I am learning a lot; things I would never have learnt about.’ (Samara)

‘You notice things you’ve never noticed before. The background you have plays a big role in how you see things. My favourite part of the course was the part on slavery and to watch the videos…even though we are not in that era right now, there are still traces. Before I came to university, I did not know about feminism. Living in Khayelitsha, I can now stand up for myself… I experience these things. Some men think it is ok to have remarks about a woman’s body. That is still oppression; it comes from a bad place [reflecting on Sarah Baartman]. We have allowed men to determine what is perfect and what is not - for them.’ (Zizipho)

‘Personally, I had not realised how deep the wounds of Africa are until I started this course… [there are] traces we see in our present day… this course enables us to intellectually explain [and] to actually have valid arguments…[by] providing tangible evidence…to be able to problematize ignorance.’ (Wadzanayi)

Current teaching team: Dr June Bam-Hutchison (CAS), Dr Ellen Hurst (HEDU), Msakha Mona (CAS & HEDU) and Paul Weinberg (CAS), with Tammy Wilks (CAS) as lead tutor.

Should you be interested in finding out more about the African Studies Major, please contact Vuyelwa  Mnqanqeni at CAS in Room 3.07, Harry Oppenheimer Institute Building,
Engineering Mall, Upper Campus, UCT. Tel: 021 650 4034
Email: Vuyelwa.mnqanqeni@uct.ac.za