Skip Navigation

African Studies

African women walking on a road

The minor in African Studies allows students to complement their major with a program that provides a systematic introduction to the complex historical, political and social issues of the African continent. The minor is structured to give students interdisciplinary training within key fields of knowledge: literature and the arts, social science and historical studies. 

The wide array of courses on Africa offered at Smith and at the other Five College campuses ensures that students, whether focusing on literature, art, history, politics, or social and economic issues, have an unusual opportunity to customize their program both topically and geographically.

Requirements & Courses


Jeffrey Ahlman, History

Advisers and African Studies Committee

  • Jeffrey Ahlman, History 
  • Colin Hoag, Anthropology
  • Aaron Kamugisha, Africana Studies
  • Caroline Melly, Anthropology
  • Katwiwa Mule, Comparative Literature
  • Anna Mwaba, Government
  • Camille Washington-Ottombre, Environmental Science and Policy
  • Greg White, Government

Minor Requirements

Six semester courses on Africa are required.

One course must be drawn from each of the following three fields:

  • Arts, Literature and Humanities
  • Historical Studies
  • Social Sciences

No more than two courses from a student's major may be counted toward the minor. At the discretion of the adviser, equivalent courses at other colleges may be substituted for Five College courses.


Students interested in African studies are encouraged to study French or Portuguese. In addition, a student who has achieved intermediate level competence in an African language may petition for this to count as one of the required courses in the field of arts, literature and humanities.

Students with the required language component may apply for the Five College African Studies Certificate.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to spend a semester or more in Africa. Information on current programs may be obtained from the African studies director and the Office of International Study, and should be discussed with the minor adviser.

Not every course listed below is offered each semester. Check the Smith College Course Catalog for course descriptions and current course offerings.

African Studies
  • AFS 113 Themes in African Studies
  • AFS 222 African Music, Gender, and Sexuality
Comparative Literature
  • CLT 100 Introduction to Comparative Literature: The Pleasures of Reading, Topics Course: Cannibals, Witches and Virgins
  • CLT 205 Twentieth-Century Literatures of Africa
  • CLT 266 Studies in South African Literature and Film, Topics Course: Modern South African Literature and Cinema
  • CLT 271 Writing in Translation: Bilingualism in the Post-Colonial Novel
  • FRN 230 Women Writers of Africa and the Caribbean
  • FRN 252 French Cinema, Topics Course: Cities of Light: Urban Spaces in Francophone Film
  • FRN 262 After Algeria: Revolution, Republic and Race in Modern France
  • FRN 380 Topics in French Cultural Studies, Topics Course: French Travel Writing and Self-Discovery
First-Year Seminar
  • FYS 165 Childhood in African Literature
  • MUS 220 Topics in World Music: African Popular Music
Africana Studies
  • AFR 218 History of Southern Africa (1600 to about 1900)
  • AFR 370 Seminar: Modern Southern Africa
  • HST 234 Global Africa
  • HST 257 Early African History
  • HST 258 Modern Africa
  • HST 259 Aspect of African History. Topics course.
  • HST 276rj  Colloquium: Topics-Historians Read the News-Race, Democracy and Reproductive Rights
  • ANT 229 Africa and the Environment
  • ANT 271 Globalization and Transnationalism in Africa
  • ECO 311 Topics in Economic Development: The Political Economy of Development in Africa
  • GOV 227 Contemporary African Politics
  • GOV 233 Problems in Political Development
  • GOV 257 Colloquium: Refugee Politics
  • GOV 347 Seminar in International Politics and Comparative Politics, Topics Course.



African Studies

Wright Hall 107
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3572

African Studies Program Director: 
Jeffrey Ahlman

Administrative Assistant: 
David Osepowicz

Individual appointments may be arranged directly with the faculty.