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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.

For videos of our professors describing their Winter 2021 courses, please CLICK HERE.  

Here are just some of our Winter 2022 courses!

AAS 206.001. Issues in African Studies - Symbolic Language and Communications in West African Visual and Performing Arts (3 Credits)

TuTh  11:30AM - 1:00PM | Kwasi Ampene, Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies

Symbolic Language and Communication in West African Visual and Performing Arts will examine the wealth and depth of Akan (Ghana) system of encoding and communicating knowledge by systematic and formulaic use of words (proverbs and poetry), image (visual arts-wooden stools, textiles-adinkra and kente), and the vast array of complex regalia associated with political authority, and sound (the performing arts-songs and instrumental texts). The course will seek to unpack Akan symbolic language and communication systems by asking the following questions: How and what do these objects communicate? What is the nature of historical, philosophical, and religious knowledge the visual and performing arts convey? And additional questions that may arise in the course of the semester. The course will benefit from my field recordings (audio-visual) and my book and journal publications. 


AAS 261 / ENVIRON 209. Introduction to Political Ecology (4 Credits)

Lecture: MW 2:30PM-4:00PM | Discussion Sections: Tu 4:00PM-5:00PM or Tu 5:00PM-6:00PM 

Brian Klein, Assistant Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and  Program in the Environment

This course is an introduction to the theoretical foundations and major themes of political ecology. Political ecology is an interdisciplinary field focused on understanding and critiquing the roots of environmental conflicts, crises, and injustice; seeing the world as shaped by complex interactions between social and natural forces; and imagining alternative futures.


AAS 275. Black women in Popular Culture (3 Credits) 

MW 1:00PM-2:30PM | Lydia Kelow-Bennett, Assistant Professor of Afroamerican & African Studies

We will examine how Black women construct and are constructed by U.S. popular culture. Developing a set of critical tools for navigating this terrain, we will explore topics such as the history of Black representation in the United States, representations of Black femininity and sexuality, stereotypes, and subversive media.


AAS 317 / ENGLISH 307 / WGS 347. Threads: What Does Clothing Have to Do with Race, Culture, Politics, and the Environment? (3 Credits)

MW 10:00AM-11:30AM | Megan Sweeney, Associate Professor of English Language & Literature; DAAS; Women's and Gender Studies

As our readings and discussions will highlight, clothing signals individuality and social legibility. It's a necessity and a privilege, protective and decorative, utilitarian and the stuff of consuming artistic passion. Clothes manage anxieties and create them, serve as armor and sometimes as sword. They reconcile and multiply our various selves. Clothing is a domain of the deadly serious and a domain of the lighthearted. So, put on your favorite outfit and get ready to think, read, write, and collaborate!


AAS 323.  HISTORY 388 / WGS 323. Black Feminist Thought and Practice (3 Credits)

MW 1:00PM-2:30PM | SaraEllen Strongman, Assistant Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies

This course explores the production and practice of black feminist theory in 20th century America. It examines the written work and the activism of African American women and looks at the ways their theory and practice historically intersect around questions of race, class, sexuality, nationality and gender. Using both primary and secondary sources, the course is also concerned with the various articulations of black feminism (e.g. womanism, critical race feminism, transnational black feminism, hip hop feminism, etc.).


AAS 342. Hip Hop Africa (3 Credits)

TuTh  10:00AM - 11:30AM | Kwasi Ampene, Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies

We shall examine the history of hip hop in Africa, the artists, musical expressions and elements as well as the socio-political and economic issues it engenders. The course will examine the range of hip hop and rap music from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Kenya.


AAS 358.013. Modern Nigeria: Giant of Africa (3 Credits)

TuTh  10:00AM-11:30AM | Adrian Deese, Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellow

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. This course explores the history of Nigeria in distinct eras: the era of the Atlantic revolutions; British Nigeria; the First Republic and military rule; and the contemporary democratic republican rule. The class draws on Nigerian popular culture, film, autobiographies, religious and political tracts.


AAS 371. Black Arts Matter: Black Women Performers and Politics (3 Credits)

MW 4:00PM-5:30PM | SaraEllen Strongman, Assistant Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies

This course will focus on how Black women performers, from Billie Holiday to Beyonce, have articulated visions of freedom for Black Americans in their art and been supporters of African American political causes more broadly.


AAS 495.003. (Senior Seminar) Studying Exploitation: Ethnography, Extraction, and the Environment in Africa (4 Credits)

MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM | Brian Klein, Assistant Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and Program in the Environment

In centering “exploitation,” this course calls attention to what are perhaps the two most pressing challenges facing humanity: exploitation of people (lives and labor) resulting in gross global inequities in wealth and power, on the one hand; and exploitation of the Earth (resource extraction and commodification), on the other. Often, the two go hand-in-hand. Nowhere is this more so the case than in the resource frontiers of the Global South—the mines and hardwood forests, fisheries and fields—wherein lies the beating heart of the contemporary global economy. Long viewed and treated as peripheral sites of poverty and extraction, these spaces are increasingly recognized as central to struggles over environmental protection, sustainability, and democratic economic development—to battles over the fundamental character and consequences of modern capitalism. In this class, we’ll consider how an ethnographic approach to research—embodied and place-based, sometimes described as “working with and alongside”—might allow for a fuller understanding of such contexts through close study of people and politics, economies and ecosystems, landscapes and livelihoods.

In doing so, we will pair readings and discussions about ethnography as a method with recent ethnographically-informed texts about spaces of exploitation/extraction, with a regional focus on Africa. The primary course assignment, meanwhile, will be an ethnographic project of students’ own conducted over the length of the semester focused on issues of environmental concern and social justice in Ann Arbor or students’ home communities. Students will thus learn to collect, analyze, synthesize, and draw conclusions from different forms of ethnographic evidence. Our overall goal will be to excavate whether and how ethnographic study can help to generate new forms of environmental knowledge, as well as novel understandings of and approaches to reconfiguring dynamics of “exploitation” from local to global contexts.