Zanzibar: Swahili Language and Culture in East Africa (Summer)

As the crossroads of African, Persian, Arab, Indian, and European cultures for nearly two millennia, the islands of Zanzibar provide a unique setting in which to explore issues of religion, ethnicity, race, gender, class, and politics in East Africa. This program explores the history of Zanzibar as a center of international trade, slavery, and colonial expansion, the legacies of social division and political centralization left by colonial rule, and the ways in which Zanzibar’s experience differs from and interacts with the histories of Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, and other neighboring states. Zanzibar is also an ideal setting for intensive study of Swahili, the most widely spoken African language.

Students take one course on the political and cultural history of Zanzibar and East Africa as well as one Swahili language course. Excursions complement the curriculum and may include Dar es Salaam, Pemba Island, one of Tanzania’s national parks, and cultural and conservation sites on the island of Zanzibar and in mainland Tanzania, such as spice plantations and unique coastlines.

Program Curriculum

Students take one course on the religion and politics of East Africa and one Swahili language course. Note: Syllabi are for course approval and reference only. Students will receive up-to-date syllabi when their courses begin.

All students take the following course:

CAS PO 205: Religion, Politics, and Identity in East Africa (4 credits)

Explores the historical role of Zanzibar as a gateway between East Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Europe, and the complicated identity politics that developed from this history. Concentrates on current issues such as democratization and international economics. Syllabus

    Students also take one Swahili language course. The course level depends on the students’ previous experience with Swahili. Other levels may be available.

    • CAS LE 111 Swahili I
    • CAS LE 211 Swahili III
    • CAS LE 311 Swahili V

    Program Details

    Program Dates
    • Summer Term: Early July through mid-August
    • Upon successful completion of the program, students earn eight Boston University credits.
    • Students are housed with local host families in and around the central district of Stone Town.
    Application Deadline
    • Summer Term: March 1 

    Download a description of the Zanzibar: Swahili Language and Culture in East Africa Program (Summer).

    Program Faculty & Staff