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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 current 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 the DAAS independent study form, which is due the first full week of classes in the corresponding term.

Selected DAAS Courses

Note: Some of the courses listed below may not be offered this semester; consult the LSA Course Guide for more information.


AAS 233.001/WGS253.003/FTVM 366.011 - Stayin' Alive: Performing Race in 1970s U.S. Film

Professor Scott Poulson-Bryant, 3 credits

Using Hollywood films as the primary texts, this course will introduce students to many of the debates surrounding the aesthetic, political, and social climate of the US in the 1970s marked by the increasing influence of identity politics, the Ethnic Revival, and Black power.


AAS 254.001 - The History and Evolution of Hip Hop Culture

Professor Stephen Ward, 4 credits

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.


AAS 290.001/.002 - Selected Topics in Black World Studies - Seven African Objects

Professor David Doris, Mini-Course, 2 credits

Over seven weeks, we will explore the lives of seven extraordinary object concepts that address Africa and the African diaspora. Worlds swirl around such objects, and through them. We, too, are in those worlds, participating in the lives of objects as they participate in ours. Each week, we’ll work through misunderstandings in order to achieve a better understanding of those worlds—our worlds—and the objects in them.


AAS 290.003/.004 - Selected Topics in Black World Studies - Hoop Dreams: Race and Basketball in America

Professor Scott Ellsworth, 2 credits

From its first appearance in a school gymnasium in Massachusetts in 1891 until today, the game of basketball has proved to be both an arena, and a bellwether, for the expression of larger social issues and trends in American life, especially with regard to race. Not only has the game itself changed significantly during the past century, but so have the styles, ethos, and aspirations of those who play it. Ranging across the entire history of the sport, this course will focus on basketball's own particular racial narrative, highlighting not only the immense African American contribution to the development of the game, but also basketball's ever-changing role in American society.


AAS 304.001/ANTHRCUL 357.002/WGS 304.001 - Gender and Immigration: Identity, Race, and Place - Refugees of Unjust Worlds: Globalization, Gender and Nation

Professor Amal Fadlalla, 3 credits

Refugees, migrants, immigrants, diaspora groups, and transnational actors are all terms that describe people who undertake different acts of mobility or travel across borders to seek refuge. But how are these terms different? This course focuses on these various acts of mobility to show how they are labeled differently under different political and social circumstances. We examine the gendered cultural and political meanings people and governments give to mobility, border-crossing, and displacement in this turbulent time in the era of globalization and transnationalism. In this course we will also emphasize the experiences of both old and new generations of immigrants in order to understand the historical context of migration, globalization, and the processes involved in the imagination of place and nation building. One important lesson that students learn in this class is that the political processes that define the often-conflated meanings attached to the refugee, immigrant, and diaspora population cannot be divorced from histories of nationalism and transnationalism and their deeply rooted constructions in gender, race, ethnic, and class relations. Race, ethnicity, and sexism are significant components, and the course addresses them through cross-cultural ethnographies, media reports, documentary films, art, and other texts to explain how citizens and non-citizens are marked differently based on both legal and cultural terminologies. Students also learn that systems of racialization and discrimination don’t just happen at the moment of border-crossing or when refugees, migrants, and diaspora populations settle in new homelands; these modes of exclusion are also experienced in various forms in their countries of origin. Some of the forces that lead to situations of refugee-ness, migration, and dispersal include religious, ethnic, gender, racial, and political discrimination encountered at home.

The course examines the different forms of these discriminations and how refugee, immigrant, and diaspora communities encounter them, live them, negotiate them, and resist them through their own cultural practices and other strategies of activism. We will particularly explore how questions of power, race, and class intersect to shape refugees and immigrants’ daily struggles for justice and human rights. How do refugees and immigrants attempt to create and “imagine” their own social world with reference to their new locations and their homelands? Our readings and discussion will focus on cultural and theoretical perspectives from the social sciences, specifically anthropology, history, and literature. And we will take as examples the ethnographies and narratives of immigrants from different parts of the world, specifically Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The seminar is intended for junior and senior undergraduates but sophomores are also welcome.


AAS 309.001 - Global Health in Africa

Professor Adam Ashforth, 3 credits

This course examines "global health" in African contexts. We shall explore African understandings of illness and health; traditions of non-medical healing; the history of Western medicine in Africa; the current state of medical systems; and the challenges of major infectious epidemics such as AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and well as everyday health challenges arising from changing lifestyles and poverty.


AAS 411.001 -  Caribbean Religions: Creole Spiritualities from Vodou to Islam

Professor Aliyah Khan, 3 credits

This upper-level seminar course examines Caribbean religious and spiritual traditions and their literature and music in Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, and diasporic Caribbean communities in North America, Canada, and the United Kingdom.


AAS 458.003/INTLSTD 401.006/POLSCI 489.013 - Political Violence in Africa

Professor Justine Davis, 3 credits

This seminar is designed to introduce students to the study of political violence in Africa. The course specifically examines domestic or intra-state manifestations of violence through a variety of theoretical and empirical approaches. Over the course of the semester, we will see that violence is not something endemic to the continent; instead, we will investigate violence as the outcome of political and economic conditions and processes. To do so, we will consider specific events in African countries while also using social science concepts and methods to examine and explain broad patterns across the continent. In conducting this exploration, we will primarily rely on and build upon the work of political scientists, but will also draw on the contributions of journalists, anthropologists, psychologists, economists, and historians.