This class will explore the history of health and healing in Africa, with emphasis on the colonial and post-colonial eras. During the semester we will explore diverse medical and social interventions in African health over the past 150 years. How have African societies understood healthy communities and public health? We will examine this question through the study of spirit possession and other African healing practices but also how they have intersected with different biomedical practices and public health programs. We will also study the patterns and social impacts of new diseases in the twentieth century, as well as transformations in the understanding and treatment of diseases long present on the continent. In particular we will explore shifting understandings of the causes, treatment, and social implications of sleeping sickness, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The development of colonial rule, shifting environmental conditions, changing diets, and urbanization all impacted the disease landscape, as well as the way African societies have understood public health. Indeed, the themes of health, medicine and disease provide a useful lens for understanding important social transformations across the continent.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
active participation in discussion, map quiz, reading reflections, a primary source analysis paper (3-5 pages), presentation, and one research paper (8-12 pages).
if course is over-enrolled, preference to history majors and students with a demonstrated interest in African studies
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
This course explores transformations in how Africans in the recent past have experienced, practiced and conceptualized health and healing. These transformations have been triggered by the expansion of global biomedicine, new and lethal epidemics, old diseases in changing environments, and new political and economic decisions by policymakers. The history of health and healing in Africa provides a critical lens through which to examine societal imbalances and and inequalities.
GBST African Studies Electives
HIST Group A Electives - Africa