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Regional Specialization: East Africa


Admission requirements

Free and compulsory for students enrolled in the RESMAAS program. Those from other MA programs may be admitted with prior registration (contact coordinator)


East Africa is here defined as the region stretching from Eritrea to Tanzania, and from the coast to the Western Rift and the borders of Sudan. In many ways a contrast has to be made between “East Africa proper”, (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania) and the Horn, including Ethiopia and Sudan. Geographically, it is characterized by the juxtaposition of areas of high agricultural fertility, often but not always in the mountains, with areas which can only be exploited through extensive pastoralism. The deep history of the region was notable for the co-existence, not necessarily easy, of Kingdoms (Buganda, Ethiopia) with extensive statelessness, among both agricultural and pastoralist groups. In addition, questions of slavery, both in terms of the external slave trade and of the establishment of a slave society in East Africa itself, shaped much of the region’s history and its relationship with the extra-African world. The great diversity of religious experience within the region has also proved a source of conflict. The level of colonial exploitation also varied sharply, with the Ethiopian kingdom largely escaping formal colonial domination. Nevertheless, the “Nile Question” dominated, and still dominates, much of the region’s political economy. In terms of modern politics, the prime focus of analysis has been with regard to the accommodation of ethnic diversity, which has frequently led to warfare.

Course objectives

The course provides basic knowledge about the region in terms topics, historical processes, current events, canonical studies and recent trends in research agenda’s.


Schedule: Mondays 10.00-12.00. Timetables
Detailed information on starting dates of courses can be found on Blackboard after registration.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of six lectures. The lectures deal with central themes in the study of this region. The lectures provide students with basic knowledge and give an overview of canonical studies and topics.
Students will read 100 pp. per week

Assessment method

Evaluation of paper submitted at the end of the course


Available for registered students.

Reading list

Provided on the first meeting of class and posted on Blackboard


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Dr. Azeb Amha
Academic Coordinator
P O Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, NL
Tel. +31-71-527-3364