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African Studies

Please note, the following course details are subject to change and are updated regularly.

Multifaceted Relations: Africa - Asia

Week 1 - Asia and Africa: The Way Two Continents Interact

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Prof. Yongkyu Chang: Watch the Course Preview

Asia and Africa are two mega-spaces on earth which occupy almost 70% of the world population and cover about 30% of the earth’s total land area. Historically, these two continents have interacted in diverse ways, therefore, creating a new space for cultural creolisation. The burgeoning of cosmopolitans and cultural creolisation were earmarks of this mobility as Swahili civilisation has proven this. Numerous archaeological remains, such as Indo-Pacific beads, Arabian jewellery, Chinese stoneware and porcelain, bear witness to the connections, contributions, and complexity of Asian and African interactions.

A short disruption followed, while large parts of both continents were colonised by European empires between the late 19th century and the mid-20th century, but resumed interaction as the two continents emerged from colonial rule. Under the influence of globalisation, the mobility between Asia and Africa has become an unprecedented phenomenon.

The main purpose of the course is to explore the cultural interaction between Asia and Africa during their historical progress. For this, topics include:

  • Overviewing the history and culture of Asia and Africa: similarities and differences
  • Cultural interaction between Asia and Africa in the course of history: the Indian ocean and the ancient world system
  • Cultural interaction between Asia and Africa: African communities in Asia and Asian communities in Africa: Asian and African diaspora
  • Asian engagement with Africa in a contemporary world: a case of South Korea
  • The role of civil societies in the course of cultural interaction between two continents


Prof. Dr. Yongkyu Chang
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea


Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler
University of Bayreuth, Germany

Week 2 - Asian Presence in Africa: Examples from East and Southern Africa

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Prof. Dr. Peter Simatei: Get to know the lecturer

Using Asian diaspora literature in East and Southern Africa this course will provide an overview of Asian presence in Africa. It will demonstrate how these examples of literature have framed conversations between peoples, cultures, ideas and regions.

The course will address the ambivalent and diasporic histories of Asians in imperial and postcolonial East and South Africa and analyse how Asian cultures consciously construct ambivalent diasporic subjectivities as the basis of new forms of African Asian identities. We will demonstrate how such ambivalence reveals itself in the way Asian diaspora writing disavow dominant, nationalistic, even binaristic accounts of colonial relationships and create, instead, a narrative that skirts the borderlines of both colonial and nationalist discourses. In a sense this constitutes a strategy of contesting both colonial history and the hi/stories of the postcolonial nation-state especially in East Africa. The consequence of this strategy though, is that while histories of the Indian people in Africa are uncovered as “scraps” of imperial history their narration tends, on the other hand, to silence those aspects of Asian experiences that align them to African anti-colonial resistance.The course will show how Asian writings resolves this contradiction by recasting Indian histories in Africa in diasporic terms even as it indicates their uncertain affiliations to and identifications with nationalist narratives of resistance which are themselves already in competition.

Course details can also be found on the course flyer.


Prof. Dr. Peter Simatei
Moi University, Kenya


Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler
University of Bayreuth, Germany

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