Geog of Sub-Saharn Africa

GEOG 455
Ville de Sète 3009, an imaginary cityscape created in 2000 by late Congolese sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez

Rather than the old adage: “To think of Africa is to think of poverty” (O’Connor 1991), in the year 2020, any geographer would agree that “To think of Africa is to think of many things”, like all places! To name a few: its 55 diverse countries; economic growth over the last two decades; new resource booms and their contestations; impressive urbanization; changing state development strategies; new renderings in global popular culture; shifting forms of inclusion and inequality; the work of political organizing, and the improvisations making everyday life possible.

From these points of departure—continental dynamism, connection, and multiplicity—this course explores current debates animating scholarship of and from African contexts. Organised thematically instead of regionally, we will focus on key themes within the concerns of urban geography, economic geography, development geography and political ecology.  Potential themes include: coloniality and liberation; problematizing the state and capitalism; urbanization; social difference; contested development models; hybrid infrastructures; mobility; informality and incrementalism; knowledge and technology politics; and imagining sustainable, just futures.

We’ll work with these themes and debates critically and through specific case studies, while always drawing connections to elsewhere. The course aims to contribute to building “new geographies of theory” (Roy 2009), adding concepts and texts to students’ analytical toolbox for research in any context.

The 8-week course will be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous resources and seminar-style meetings.

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Please feel free to contact the instructor for more information, sbutcher@illinois.edu.