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Researching Africa in the 21st Century


Admission requirements

Students of the MA African Studies. Others after consultations with the instructor.


African studies is a multi- and inter-disciplinary field of knowledge production. This means that students have to learn a variety of academic “languages” that are accompanied by different theories, methodologies and methods. In this course we will discuss these languages and see how we apply them to understand a problem, or an object of study. In our curriculum we aim at acquaintance with the following disciplines that combine in different interdisciplinary fields: History, Politics, Economics, Geography, Literature studies, Cultural studies, Linguistics, Anthropology. The interdisciplinary combinations that we put central are: political history; geography and economics; Cultural studies (includes also literature/film/media studies); Socio-linguistics and Media studies.

Each discipline has its methodology and methods, so it is important for an Africanist to understand the various methods of the other disciplines and to be able to work with them. In this course we discuss the implication of methodological choices for the formulation of research and choices for theory and methods, and hence the ‘data’ that are gathered and form the ‘corpus’ for the research outcomes. While discussion theories and methodology we will also introduce concrete topics and themes of Africanist debates and research projects.

These discussions are situated in the debate on what the Digital environment has changed in our research practices. First of all the digital has transformed the research ‘field’. The digital and physical spaces are an integrated part of many lifeworlds and we cannot separate these. This has implications for the way we see and interpret the world (methodology and theory) and the way we approach the world as researchers (methods). The tools to do research have expanded with easy audio, photo and video; computer, i-pads etc. make text also a different experience than a pen and paper. The field has expanded to digital archives, big data, social media, ‘open science’, etc.
In this course special attention is given to such possibilities in collaboration with the Methods Hub.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, the student has obtained:

Knowledge and understanding
a. Africa studies and interdisciplinarity and epistemologies that go with it
b. Knowledge of multi- and interdisciplinary research
c. Knowledge of digital skills and digital learning environment
d. Knowledge of societal relevance

Applying knowledge and understanding
e. The ability to understand the role of theory/concepts, methodology, and research methods relevant in African Studies in the development of independent research

Ability to formulate judgements
f. Take into account social and cultural, academic and ethical aspects relevant to the analysis of complex questions and the formulation of judgements.
g. Reflect on methodological, historical and ethical-social aspects of African Studies.

Communication skills
h. Oral skills to clearly communicate the outcomes
i. Written skills to clearly communicate the outcomes
j. Visual skills to clearly communicate the outcomes

Learning skills
k. Has the learning skills to continue further study at a professional level / start a PhD
l. Is able and aware of the necessity to keep abreast of relevant developments in the academic and practitioners’ field.
m. Is able to assess where his/her own research/work can contribute to academic or practitioners’ fields.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Practical skills training

  • Data collection

Assessment method

Participation in class: (20%)
Presentation of readings: (10%)
Presentation of assignments (in multi-media product) (40%)
And the reflective paper (individual) that goes with this: (30%)

Assessment method


  • Participation in class

  • Presentation of readings

  • Presentation of assignments (in multi-media product)

  • Reflective paper (individual) that goes with this


  • Participation in class: 20%

  • Presentation of readings: 10%

  • Presentation of assignments: 40%

  • Reflective paper: 30%


Inspection and feedback

Reading list

Will follow; the reading for the course will be put on brightspace three weeks before the course starts.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.


For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats

For questions regarding your studyprogress please contact the Coordinator of Studies


Not applicable.