Fall 2023

Tangled Legacies: Cultural and Political Histories in Francophone West Africa

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-353  |  French, as FREN-353


Monika Brodnicka (Section 01)


(Offered as FREN 353 and BLST 353) This course will examine the complex and longstanding historical, political, and cultural relationship between France and West Africa. Throughout the semester, we will trace the historical foundations of the West African region, the socio-political effects of its colonial encounter with France, and the diverse responses to the region’s postcolonial realities. We will start our discussion by following the evolution of modern states in West Africa from two defining historical periods: the development of medieval empires in the Sahel and the impact of French colonial domination in the region during the first part of the twentieth century. We will subsequently explore, in light of this history, the philosophical significance of the ever-shifting West African identities through their contemporary political and social expressions. Some of the themes, inspired by this ongoing and often ambivalent relationship between West Africa and France, are decentering histories, the economics of underdevelopment, religious pluralism, decoloniality, and creative/digital activism. These themes will be examined through oral and written histories, essays, articles, literature, speeches, music, art, and film in the course. This course will be taught in English.

Fall semester. Professor Brodnicka.

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on writing, readings, oral presentations, and group work

BLST 353 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 103
Th 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 103

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali Niane, Djibril Tamsir Amherst Books TBD
Queen Pokou: Concerto for a Sacrifice Tadjo, Veronique Amherst Books TBD
The Fortunes of Wangrin Ba, Amadou Hampate Amherst Books TBD
The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa Diagne, Souleymane Bachir Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2023