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Regional Specialization: East Africa


Admission requirements

Free and compulsory for students enrolled in the ResMA African Studies program and for students of the 1-year MA African Studies. 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 knowledge about the region in terms topics, historical processes, current events, canonical studies and recent trends in research agenda’s.


Schedule: Mondays 12.30-14.30

Mode of instruction


* The course comprises 10 EC and the total course load is thus 280 hrs * 36 hrs of these will be spent attending lectures (6 lecture of 2 hrs x for 3 regions) * 86 hrs to be spent on studying compulsory literature: 100 pages literature per week (7 pages per hour) for 6 lectures in 6 weeks * 158 hrs for writing a final paper

Assessment method

Evaluation of paper submitted at the end of the course


Blackboard Available for registered students.

Reading list

Provided a week before 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

Students are requested to register for the course and the examination through uSis


Part I and II of this course will be coordinated by Dr. Harry Wels and Par III by Dr. Erik Bähre.

For further information, contact:

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