Ideas of Africa: Africa Writes Back


The continent of Africa has been variously described as the birthplace of humanity, the Motherland, a country, a continent, and a heart of darkness. All of these descriptions reflect representations of Africa, but how accurately do they reflect reality? This course analyzes the intellectual history of ideas about Africa and argues that some ideas have an enduring shelf life—even when they have been consistently proven to be inaccurate. We will critically interrogate historical and anthropological studies, travelers’ accounts, media representations, and films created by non-Africans. However, we will also examine the critical responses by African philosophers, novelists, academics, artists, and journalists who have attempted to address these images.