African Politics - PO957

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 7 20 (10) DR Y Guichaoua checkmark-circle


The module will engage with the abundant literature in political science, history, sociology and anthropology concerned with the transformations of the state and the societies in Africa. Africanist literature is empirically exceptionally rich and conceptually innovative. The objective of the module is to explore the tools this literature offers to study contemporary political dynamics on the continent, using a comparative approach, and understand the importance of Africa in international relations

Indicative overview:
1. African stereotypes in global media
2. Rule and State formation in historical perspective
3. Colonial legacies
4. An 'extraverted' continent?
5. Heterogeneity of contemporary political systems
6. The military in politics
7. Politics from below
8. Culture and political representations
9. Dissent and its management
10. Identity politics
11. Political violence
12. African borderlands
13. Regional cooperation


This module appears in the following module collections.


Spring term

Method of assessment

Students will receive regular formative assessments as part of seminars, but also at half term, after having submitted their essay plans. The end of term essay will lead to a summative assessment in the form of an essay of 5,000 words, representing 100% of the final mark. The principle is to let students search for a relevant essay topic through personal readings and get approval and suggestions from the module convenor after an outline has been submitted halfway throughout the term.

Indicative reading

Bach, D. and Gazibo, M (ed). 2012. Neopatrimonialism in Africa and Beyond. London: Routledge
Bates, R. 2008. When things fell apart. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Bayart, J.-F. 2009. The State in Africa. Polity
Boone, C. 2014. Property and Political order in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Cheeseman, N. and Anderson, D. 2013. Routledge Handbook of African Politics. Routledge
Herbst, J. 2000. States and Power in Africa. Princeton: Princeton University Press
Mamdani, M. 1996. Citizen and Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press
Mbembe, A. 2001. On the Postcolony. University of California Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
8.1: have a good understanding of the varieties and modalities of governance of African political regimes
8.2: have a good understanding of the pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial political, social and economic transformations shaping contemporary African regimes
8.3: have a comprehensive picture of the conceptualisations of contemporary African systems of governance and, in particular, the political economy and normative representations they rely on
8.4: analyse ongoing political dynamics in Africa with the adequate conceptual tools: democratisation, social mobilisation, identity politics, coups, political violence, electoral politics etc.
8.5: understand how African countries relate to each other, cooperatively or not, formally (regionalisation) or not (cross border activities, migration, political destabilisation via proxies etc.)
8.6: have a deep understanding of the way African countries currently relate to the rest of the world economically or politically (bilaterally, multilaterally, via INGOs or private sector partnerships in the North or in the South). Whether Africa's 'extraversion' (Bayart) today has anything in common with historical patterns of the African continent global connectedness will be investigated


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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