IRD 2104: Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa

 

 

 

2017-18

 

 

 

 

 

Fridays, 9 - 11am: C304

 

 

 


This module aims to examine the Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa; that is to say the region of the Africa continent that exists between the countries along the northern coast that borders the Mediterranean sea and the top of Southern Africa which includes Zimbabwe and South Africa.

 

This said, the module does not aim to explore this area country by country but rather chooses to be led by concept-led political science analysis informed by empirical case studies that can be open to critical reflection of the play of variables and pattern of explanation involved in competing literatures.

 

As such, notions including tradition, culture, religion, topology, borders, tribe, group, colonialism, leadership, parties, coups, revolution, terrorism, political and economic transitions, corruption, civil war, modernization, globalisation, federalisation, succession, ideology and so forth will all be examined for the part they play in assessing how best to characterise old as well as new forms of the politics of Africa.

 

In the first term we will place emphasis upon the history of Africa from the pre-colonial societies and the making of nations and states through the gradual build up of both African and Western Empires and the new setting of boundaries according to anthropological ideas of tribe and geography. Herein we shall look at some classic early works on the politics of Africa as seen through the eyes of British analyses such as those of Lord Lugard and his idea of the Dual mandate: administration and economic benefits for the metropole, as well as the “native’s” uplifting.. This contrasts markedly with the imperial policies of France.  Subsequent we shall examine the emergence of independence movements and the recognition by Western states for various reasons, that they should permit de-colonisation and that Empires should fade away. But nonetheless the shadows of the past lived on in the form of an effort to expect that African nations will adopt a broadly democratic form and in the post-war period be part of the United nations and be accountable within the terms of modernization as defined by largely modern western notions.

 

The late 40s and through to the early 60s saw the adoption of such images of nation-hood perhaps in part determined by her return of new leaders who were trained in British and American universities whilst at the same time leaning towards a form of socialism to some extent that was later captured within an African style of discourse such as Nkrumah's neo-marxist philosophy 'Consciencism' or the politics of Ujamaa in Nyerere's Tanganyika/Tanzania setting out grounds for the one party state as community. As a result, such development of an african style of political thought gives rise to a dialectic of modernisation and an african way of political economy that does not entirely fit with Anglo-American foreign policy goals - given that any lines of african development are made sense of within the wider frame of the Cold war and the competition for client states.

 

A key part of the module will be on the fragility of the adoption of the democratic process and the forms of political violence (including the period in Nigeria from 1959 - 1969 and the subsequent brutal successionist Biafran war) rooted in parties, tribes, religion and leaders that pre-occupied the 60s and the 70s especially in Nigeria and Ghana.

 

In the Spring term, we will focus in on new forms of (if you like) imperialism - or might it be neo-colonialism?) that comes with the scramble for oil and mining rights accompanied of course by investment as the price to be paid for what may be seen as forms of exploitation. And herein perhaps lies the tension between say, neo-liberal and marxist critiques of the fortunes of some African states. All of this, it will be seen, is wrapped up in the history of continuing dependence upon often former colonial states as well as the post-colonial wars that stop and start and are quelled and then emerge once more through opposing liberation movements that occupy differential ideological and often tribal and geographical terrain that attracts the support or the intervention of various non-African countries, not least the US (CIA), Soviet Union/Russia and China. With this in mind we will look at the complexity of the Angolan war and the struggles of Zaire under Mobutu.

 

All of these post-colonial struggles for a reconciled nation-hood have in recent years been subject increasingly to mediation by both the UN and its agencies as well as NGOs. Thus we shall trace the development of various initiatives for intra-state settlements in Africa by the  setting up of organisations such as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) onwards.

 

 

 

Wk

Date

Theme

1

6th Oct

Introduction to Module

2

13th Oct

Making up Countries: setting the boundaries

3

20th Oct

Anthropology: People, tribes, kinship

4

27th Oct

Belief: myth and magic and religion

5

3rd Nov

Beginning of Africa as the 'Dark Continent' and its opening

6

10th Nov

Theories of the purposes of Empire

7

17th Nov

Reading Project

8

24th Nov

Britain in Africa: Lugard and the Dual Mandate

9

1st Dec

France in Africa

10

8th Dec

Germany, Portugal and Belgium in Africa

11

15th Dec

Group report on reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

12th Jan

British critiques of Empire and the post-war push for de-colonisation

2

19th Jan

Hope for a democratic Africa and future leaders of Independence

3

26th Jan

The case of Nigeria - 1959 - 1969: Elections, Coups and counter-coups

4

2nd Feb

Nigeria: Federalism and Biafran succession

5

9th Feb

The Military in Africa

6

16th Feb

Relative stability: Ghana: almost a peaceful nation; Kenya: Autocracy of Leadership

7

23rd Feb

Essay preparation

8

1st March

When will the war end? Angola as proxy for international rivalry

9

8th March

Dictatorship and corruption in Africa - Mobutu's Zaire (Dem Rep of Congo)

10

15th March

Structural adjustment policies

11

23rd March

Portfolio Preparation workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essay

2500 words

1st April

Portfolio

2500 words

1st May

Re-sit

 

28th June



Reading for module as a whole: Alex Thompson: an Introduction to African Politics 3rd ed. (Routledge)

 

 

 

 

UNIVERSITY MODULAR FRAMEWORK -MODULE SPECIFICATION

 

All items with a star (*) cannot be changed without approval.

 

 

FACULTY *

Business & Law

SUBJECT AREA *

Economics, International Relations & Development

FIELD*

Economics, International Relations & Development

MODULE TITLE*

The Politics of sub-Saharan Africa

 

MODULE CODE *

LEVEL*

CREDIT VALUE*

CO-ORDINATOR

IRD2104

5

20

Charlotte Cross

 

DELIVERY MODE(S)*

Standard

DELIVERY LOCATION(S)*

UON

PRE-REQUISITES*:

None

CO-REQUISITES*:

None

RESTRICTIONS*:

None

SUPPLEMENTARY REGULATIONS*:

This module has no supplementary regulations                

DESCRIPTION*:  

This module provides a broad overview of issues in contemporary sub-Saharan African politics, incorporating insights from political science, history and anthropology. The module will address critical theoretical and thematic debates, including the nature of the African state, the extent to which political liberalisation has altered African polities, and how African governments are dealing with contentious contemporary challenges such as the sometimes violent nature of political competition. In addition, students will engage with country-specific case studies, and will explore the role of international actors in shaping the politics of African states.


OVERALL AIM(S) FOR THE MODULE*

 

     To introduce students to theoretical debates and critical contemporary issues in African politics.

     To enable students to develop in-depth country-specific knowledge and awareness of the diversity of African political systems.

 

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES*:

 

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

 

Knowledge and Understanding

 

a)      Explain key concepts and theoretical perspectives related to the study of African politics.

b)      Describe major trends that have infuenced African politics in the post-colonial period.

c)      Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of a chosen country, and an awareness of the country’s positioning within a broader comparative context.

 

Subject - specific Skills

 

d)      Evaluate the utility of a range of theoretical perspectives in explaining issues in African politics.

e)      Compare and contrast the political histories, structures and processes of African states.

 

Key Skills

 

g)      Communicate ideas clearly and effectively in writing.

h)      Use a range of quantitative and qualitative primary and secondary data to     construct and support an argument.

i)       Select appropriate empirical examples to support theoretically informed arguments.

 

INDICATIVE CONTENT:

·         The module will combine broad theoretical and thematic content with detailed country-specific case studies, drawn from across the continent.

·         The module will be organised in three sections. Students will firstly explore approaches to understanding the development of nation-states in Africa, and implications for contemporary political systems. Issues to be addressed include:

o         the legacy of European colonialism

o         nationalism and independence from colonial rule

o         the development of authoritarian states following independence.

·         Building on this foundation, the second section of the module addresses critical contemporary issues in African politics, including:

o        The uneven process of political liberalisation across the continent

o        Dynamics of political competition, including the salience of ethnicity and religion

o        The political role of ‘non-state’ institutions, including traditional authorities, organised criminal networks and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

o        The role of international actors in African politics and the politics of international aid.

·         The final section draws upon theoretical approaches and concepts explored throughout the module to consider why political competition in some African countries has entailed violent intra-state conflict, in contrast to the relatively peaceful experience of others. 

·         Throughout the module, students will be encouraged to reflect upon how ‘knowledge’ about Africa has been created and by whom, and how this affects our understanding of the politics of the continent.

CONTEXT*

This module is delivered in a face to face form to student cohort(s) taught by UN staff.

JUSTIFICATION OF TEACHING, LEARNING AND ASSESSMENT STRATEGY*:

Lectures will provide an overview of key theoretical concepts and themes pertinent to the study of politics in Africa. Seminars will stimulate critical discussion, and will provide the opportunity to compare and contrast individual country cases in relation to the approaches presented during lectures. The assessments are also designed to provide a balance in terms of assessing continent-level thematic and theoretical knowledge, and a detailed empirical focus on one country. The workshop will introduce students to online quantitative data sources for the study of African politics, such as the Afrobarometer (nationally representative public opinion surveys conducted in 35 African countries).

Teaching, learning + assessment activities

Study hours

All contact hours

50

24 x 1hour lectures

24

24 x 1 hour seminars

24

1 x 2 hour workshop

2

Independent study hours

100

24 x 3 hours reading and seminar preparation

72

Tutorials and skills development

28

Assessment Hours

50

   2,500 word essay

25                                      

   Portfolio – country case study

25

Total

200

 

 

 

ASSESSMENT STRUCTURE*

 

Assessment Items                                       Units Weighting Learning Outcomes

AS1 – 1 x 2500 word essay                            2.5    50%          a,b,d,g,i

AS2 – 1 x portfolio – country case study         2.5    50%          a,b,c,e,g,h

 

ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

The 2,500 word essay, is designed to assess students’ capacity to construct a theoretically informed argument related to an aspect of African politics and to support their argument through the use of relevant empirical examples. The essay will be assessed on the basis of:

·         Content, referring to the scope of material covered and level of understanding of issues presented

·         Level of critical analysis including use of theory

·         Clarity and coherence of written communication

·         Scholarly practice (e.g. accurate referencing).

The portfolio requires students to select one state from a suggested list. Through directed tasks over the course of the module, they will produce a country case study, based on the use of recommended readings and additional online resources, including governance indices and national survey data produced by Afrobarometer. Tasks will require students to compare and contrast their case to other African states. Students will be assessed on:

·       Ability to analyse a range of types of data.

·       Quality of research, in terms of scope and relevance of material included.

·       Analysis and explanation of the similarity and/or differences between the selected case and other African countries.

 

APPROVAL/ REVIEW DATES:

Date of approval:   August 2016. Module recoded. Was SOC2104

January 2017 – all sections reviewed for CAIeRO