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DAAS Course Offerings

Our courses are multifaceted as they provide students with a wide-range of real-life experiences to accompany a colorful education. Students who become a part of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies will experience an array of courses from intellectual scholars from all over the world.

  • For a list of our currents courses, please see the LSA Course Guide
  • Students interested in proposing an independent study in consultation with a faculty member of their choosing will need to complete an independent study form. This form is due the first full week of classes in the term the independent is to take place.


AAS 358.011: Black World Studies: Inventing African Art: A Continent on Display

What do you know about African art? If you were visiting an art museum and thinking about going to the African gallery, what is it you would expect to see?

Chances are most people would anticipate encountering wooden masks and sculpture. Have you visited the African gallery in the UM Museum of Art? There you have it! So, what about all the other things that African artists make? Where are the textiles, the beadwork, the pottery that has been produced in Africa for millennia? Where is the contemporary art made by artists trained in professional art schools? Why are African masks and sculpture usually displayed in a visually sterile environment (a “white cube”) stripped of any context that might offer insights into where the objects were made and how they were originally used? We might ask the (perhaps not so) simple but fundamental question: What is African art?

This semester we will attempt to answer this question, to explore the origins of this category of visually compelling, often beautiful, African things. We will learn that the concept of “African art” was invented not long ago, at the beginning of the 20th century, and that it was not until the 1960s that it began to be studied by historians of art. Seeking an understanding of why and how “African art” was invented and what it is, and is not, will require exploring the political, social, economic and cultural relationships that have been forged among individuals and institutions in Africa, Europe and the United States that make, trade, collect, study and exhibit African art.

A particularly exciting dimension of this course is its association with an important research project recently launched here at UM that considers these interesting issues and will culminate in a major traveling art exhibition. The work that students undertake will contribute to this project. The course is structured as a seminar. There will be weekly readings and video viewings that will serve as the basis for class discussion. A number of scholars and artists have been invited to visit the class during the semester, and several field trips to museums, galleries and private art collections have been organized. Each student will select and pursue a research topic that takes up a key issue associated with the course theme. Students will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with the course instructors during biweekly (once every two weeks) meetings.


Questions? Contact Professor Raymond Silverman at


AAS 358.005: Filming the Future of Detroit

This course is a rare opportunity to engage Detroit simultaneously from theoretical and practical perspectives, from the perspectives of music history, social history, architectural history, cultural anthropology, literature, and film…. We will read, we will write, and we will learn how to make films with the help of an award winning filmmaker from Berlin. We will approach Detroit from the perspectives of race, gender, sexuality, democracy, urbanization, suburbanization, industrialization, de-industrialization, emergency management, and the future. In thinking about the future, we will think about the extent to which Detroit is representative of American and other urban futures, and to what extent is the exception. We will also examine Detroit’s place in the world. How does it compare to Mumbai in India, Johannesburg in South Africa, and how does it compare to Berlin in Europe? Finally, we will work with a group of young people who live in and are growing up in Detroit. We will learn not only how to see Detroit from their perspectives, but also how to collectively produce films about it. The course will end in public screenings in Ann Arbor and Detroit.


Questions? Contact Associate Professor Damani Partridge at

More information:

AAS 254.001: History & Evolution of Hip Hop Culture

This course examines the emergence, growth, and changing character of Hip Hop culture since its emergence in the early 1970's. Using a wide range of readings, music, films, and other material, students explore the historical context for Hip Hop’s birth and evolution and assess its continuing impact on American society. Through this examination of Hip Hop's evolution—aesthetically, artistically, commercially—students will learn to critically engage narrate about how Hip Hop grew from a small subculture created by Black and Puerto Rican youth in economically and socially marginalized sections of New York City to its current place of cultural prominence, commercial and artistic influence, and broad acceptance in American culture. Students will be evaluated through a series of writing assignments in which they are to use course material to develop interpretations of Hip Hop at various stages of its growth.


Questions? Contact Associate Professor Stephen Ward at

AAS 443.001: Pedagogy of Empowerment: Activism, Race, Gender & Health

Important: If you take this class you must be prepared to be committed to spend time in the community working with young women — on the community’s terms not yours.
The Pedagogy of Empowerment will explore the methodology of consciousness raising as an empowerment strategy in race, gender and health. Through this two tiered course, students will cultivate strong background knowledge of the gender inequalities that are manifested in the lives of women in the areas of race gender and health. How do the variables of race and gender impact health and in turn how does health as an independent variable affect race and gender. At the core this course is an intensive engagement in the intractability and injustice of gender inequality. The course has three main objectives.

An examination of the current status of women both globally and nationally as it affects women through the ownership of their bodies, their ability to exercise choice, and the deconstruction of choice. The academization of the feminist movement, the collusion of women themselves in their own oppression and the power of culture as it shapes women through religion, race and ethnicity will be interrogated as important foundational thinking in this class.
As a consequence of this analysis, everyone in this class will be required to participate in a methodology of consciousness raising developed by Professor Haniff which students must then use in selected groups of girls 15-16 years old. This activist component is the praxis of this class which requires students to not just read and study empowerment but to actually be engaged in an effort to empower. The idea here is to engage young women in understanding gender inequality as a strategy of empowerment. Seeing and understanding the social forces that restrain their lives, (consciousness), is a precondition for their own liberation.


Questions? Contact Lecturer Nesha Haniff at


AAS 458.002: Social media and the New Age of Activism

In the last decade, there has been tremendous attention by scholars, activists and practitioners on how media help in shrinking space, particularly public space. The increasing influence of social media in contemporary global political and environmental engagement has been overwhelming. From President Trump’s tweets to Black Lives Matter’s use of social media in organizing across the United States, attention is being focused on the impact of social media on the daily-lived experiences of many citizens across the world. This course will address the growing influence of social media on how activists and the general public engage with the state on issues of the environment, human rights and global politics. The course will focus on how social media, over the years, have transformed from being a space for socially engaging with friends and acquaintances to a space for public discourse of politics, the economy and the many challenges of governance. The course will focus specifically on how the social media space has become a space where activists, scholars and citizens make demands from and of the state. This course will raise key philosophical and analytical questions regarding the interconnectedness of social media use to the questions of development and environmental practices in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the United States and other centers of global power in shaping political and social imaginaries of citizenship across time and space.


Questions? Contact Associate Professor Omolade Adunbi at