African Studies Courses
Graduate and Undergraduate Advising
Students are faced each semester with a long list of choices when it comes to African studies courses at Boston University, and balancing personal interests with academic progress may be difficult. The African Studies Center advisor can help you to sort through competing ideas about what might be best for you and your career and to make a decision. The advisor can also provide some basic insights about the way the African Studies Center works in regards to academic planning. For example, students considering taking an African language course for the first time may be confused by the designation “ARR” or “Arranged” in the course catalog. By making courses “arranged” at the beginning of each semester it maximizes the flexibility of scheduling so students from outside the College of Arts & Sciences, and sometimes from other campuses, are able to make arrangements with the instructor.
Featured Course: AN 532 Literacy and Islam in Africa
AN 532 Literacy and Islam in Africa (Area)
MWF 4:00-5:00 PM.
Prereq: consent of instructor. Ajami comes from the Arabic word for non-Arab, or foreigner. It also refers to the practice of writing other languages using a modified Arabic script. Although written records are rarely regarded as part of sub-Saharan Africa’s intellectual heritage, important bodies of Ajami materials have existed in numerous communities in Africa for centuries. In South Africa, Muslim Malay slaves produced the first written record of Afrikaans in Ajami. Africa’s Ajami traditions developed in communities with a long history of practicing Islam, and who sought to adapt the Arabic alphabet to their own tongues, first for religious purposes such as prayers, writing magical protective devices, and disseminating religious materials and edicts, and later for secular functions such as commercial and administrative record-keeping, writing eulogies and family genealogies, recording important events such as births, deaths and weddings, and writing biographies, poetry, political satires, advertisements, road signs, public announcements, speeches, and personal correspondence. The course will examine both major and minor African Ajami traditions. It will investigate (1) the Islamization of Africa and the subsequent development of Ajami literary traditions in the continent, (2) the forms, contents, and goals of Ajami materials, (3) their role in the spread of Islam and the reverse effect of African influences on Islam, (4) the past and current secular functions of Ajami materials, and (5) the Arabic and Ajami materials written by enslaved Africans in the Americas. The primary goal of this course is to enable students to have access to the unique sources of knowledge generally missed in the studies on Africa written in Arabic and European languages, and to provide them with a deeper understanding of the spread of Islam and its Africanization in the continent. The course will open new research opportunities for students interested in the histories and traditions of sub-Saharan African Muslim communities. 4 cr.
Taught by Prof. Fallou Ngom, see http://www.bu.edu/bostonia/summer09/ajami/