Lectures & Seminars

In the division of African Area Studies, we conduct education activities through lectures on African area studies and fieldwork, exercises and topic research in which each student presents his/her research presentation, and a research support program for fieldwork in Africa. In addition to these, DAAS students may also participate in outcome presentation occasions where Japanese and international researchers on African area studies gather, such as the African Area Studies research presentation organized by the Center for African Area Studies and KUASS seminars conducted in English.

Japanese Course (International students only)

The students may also attend a Japanese language course after their entrance to the program. Students receiving a MEXT scholarship are obliged to attend a 6-month Japanese language course prior to entrance. This is an excellent, intensive course that enables you to acquire skills in the Japanese language. Before commencing, an interview is required for enrolment in the course.

Lectures

The Division of African Area Studies offers programs in Livelihoods and Ecology, Culture and Society, and Development and Sustainability to allow for in-depth study of the issues outlined below. (1) Shaped by its resilient tropical ecosystems, Africa has its own distinct history, and the people have managed to retain much of their traditional cultures and lifestyles. However, their livelihoods and natural resources are now substantially influenced by the global economy and environmental problems. (2) Africa has undergone a number of processes leading to state formation and integration into the global society since the middle of the 20th century. However, the risk of division and fragmentation along ethnic lines has remained a ubiquitous problem because the basis of the socio–political order has been fragile. (3) Post-colonial Africa faces a variety of issues, including developmental, political, and environmental challenges; in this context, “global standards” have often been imposed without consideration of the intrinsic characteristics of the area. Indeed, questions about how to promote endogenous development based on the specific potentials of Africa remain unanswered.

Livelihoods and Ecology

These classes explore relationships between humans and nature in Africa. Using ecological approaches in the broad sense, we analyze the structures, functions, historical development, and environmental bases of livelihoods—farming, pastoralism, hunting, gathering, fishery, commerce, and manufacturing. And, we re-evaluate the particular nature of livelihood strategies and regional economies, focusing specifically on their relationships with the broader political, economic, and social contexts.

Socio-economy in Africa

Rural society in Africa has undergone some great changes since the start of the 1980s, with the influence of globalization, structural adjustment policies, poverty reduction strategies, the introduction of multi-party political systems, and the decentralization of political power. In these lectures, we will look mainly at texts published in recent years that treat the short- and long-term social and economic transformations experienced by African rural society, and discuss their concerns and their methods of analysis.

Agricultural Ecology

This course aims to clarify the current status of agriculture in Africa as it relates to ecological and social changes resulting from globalization. Additionally, we consider “African ways” for achieving sustainable development that are based on a deep understanding of the relationships between food, the economy, and energy, as practiced by residents of rural areas.

Wildlife Conservation

Wildlife conservation is an important global issue as it concerns the preservation of biodiversity in a variety of ecosystems throughout the world. On the other hand, for people who live in the habitats of endangered animals, wildlife conservation is a personal problem that is highly specific to the region and framed in terms of a particular local history and way of thinking about animals. This class takes a fresh look at wildlife conservation as one contemporary problem in which global and local concerns intersect, and students gain an understanding of the relevant basic concepts through a range of readings and class discussions.

Historical Ecology

The format of this course involves lectures on human–ecosystem interactions and historical changes therein, delivered by the instructor. Following these lectures, which will reference a variety of case studies of the Central African Forest, the instructor and the students will discuss the relevance of human–ecosystem interaction studies to issues of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

Culture and Society

These classes explore the possibilities offered by the pluralistic, convivial society of Africa. To this end, we investigate the characteristics of the cultural practices of different ethnic groups and explore their historical underpinnings based on intensive fieldwork using verbal and nonverbal approaches. We will also analyze the mechanisms underpinning the historical development and environmental bases of the culturally complex and multi-ethnic societies in contemporary Africa.

Ecology and Society in Africa

This class will cover several topics with regard to how to prepare for field research, how to identify a particular theme or topic, how to collect data, and how to write papers and dissertations. Discussion will be based on the instructor’s surveys of the ecological and social systems of agriculturists and hunter–gatherers in the African tropical rain forests.

African Urban Society

The societies of most cities in Sub-Saharan Africa have been formed under a succession of influence of outside counties, whether it was with the slave trade in centuries past, or, in later centuries the colonial rule of European countries, or, recently, globalization. This class will examine research on African cities, where the local is always in competition with the global, with the aim of providing a multi-faced understanding of the dynamics of urban society in Africa.

Interaction Studies

Using multi-disciplinary research data I have collected, this course discusses the system that organizes human interactions with special emphasis on the use of various natural and social resources among people in contemporary African societies. Each academic year, I will select a theme pertaining to this subject and develop empirical and theoretical argument together with the course participants.

Livelihoods and Creativities in Africa

One of the most important parts of daily life in contemporary Africa consists of livelihood activities, such as agriculture, cattle breeding, craftworks, retail, etc. By sharing the results of the fieldwork in Ethiopia, we will shed light on local peoples’ attitudes to environmental and social transformation in contemporary Africa, the importance of human-object relationships in African life, and the creativity generated through interactions between researchers and local people in the context of livelihood.

Development and Sustainability

This class explores the use of alternative modes of knowing and relating to the world that have originated in Africa with the dual goals of applying these approaches to difficulties of the modern world and contributing to the future of humanity. The class identifies problems faced by African societies in the context of historical processes and social change, and examines ways in which these problems have been addressed. We recognize African Potentials as constituting a dynamic problem-solving capability that has been created, practiced, managed, and synthesized as African societies have engaged and negotiated with the outside world.

African Potentials

The most urgent issue currently facing contemporary society in many countries in Africa is exhaustion and fragmentation of the social order, brought about by conflict and war. Huge number of civilians get caught up in these conflicts, and the wars give rise to multitudes of refugees and internally displaced persons. How should the discipline of Area Studies understand this state of affaires and what kind of contribution can we make in the search for possible ways out? In this course of lectures, we will focus in particular on the problems of the conflicts that have arisen in Africa since the 1990s, looking at their causes and development, and the methods that have been adopted toward their solution. We will then consider if there are ways to build peace, restore social relations, and allow for the co-existence of different ethnicities, not through introduction of political systems and values associated with modernity in the West, but through the utilization of knowledge and systems created over time and operated by the African people themselves.

Local Knowledge and Indigenous Development

In previous years this course has examine various issues in agriculture in Africa and their historical development focusing mainly on the relationship between human society and plants (theories of agricultural science, anthropology, ecology, crop evolution, ethno-botany, domestication). This year we will look at the issues of indigenous knowledge, treating it as a cultural resource accumulated by people in Africa over many centuries, and at the types of people who use it (who may be new social groups), as a way of examining problems in development in rural society. Rural villages, education, museums, biological diversity, manufacturing, and markets will be key words in our approach to these problems.

Development in Africa

We cannot discuss contemporary African societies without considering the issue of “development”. In some cases, “development” involves changes in the circumstances within which people live ordinary lives. Such circumstantial changes include increasing contact with the state, the penetration of the market economy, and the transmutation of communities. In other cases, it involves the conscious initiation of actions by external agents or inhabitants. This class addresses, from a historical perspective, a wide range of development-related phenomena in present-day Africa and examines their substance, background, and influence on people, as well as the nature of initiatives that have emerged in relation to such phenomena. Our recent surveys in Africa have identified numerous developments in all spheres of life; these include population increases, urbanization, economic changes (oil and mineral exploitation, changes in the flow of goods, increased activity by foreign investors), changes in attitudes and behavior toward the environment (use of forest resources, the effect of ecosystems, and climate change), and changes in the legal and electoral systems. This class considers, through lectures and practical training, transformations occurring in the natural and social environments of Africa and discusses how researchers could approach them.

Environmental Studies in Africa

Our recent surveys in Africa have identified numerous developments in all spheres of life; these include population increases, urbanization, economic changes (oil and mineral exploitation, changes in the flow of goods, increased activity by foreign investors), changes in attitudes and behavior toward the environment (use of forest resources, the effect of ecosystems, and climate change), and changes in the legal and electoral systems. This class considers, through lectures and practical training, transformations occurring in the natural and social environments of Africa and discusses how researchers could approach them.

Courses Common to All Departments in the Division

Tropical Diseases

Many students of the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies conduct a field research in Asia and Africa, where various kinds of infectious diseases, which does not exist in Japan, are observed. This lecture aims to deepen the knowledge on tropical diseases and the practical methods to conduct a field research healthily.

Practical Development Cooperation

Based on cases of rural and agricultural development in Africa, the course introduces what development cooperation aims for and what are happening in the field. Then it discusses types and roles of development workers, and their desired capacity and perspective. The course also touch resent changes of development policy environment and its impact on development projects. At the end of the course, it is expected that participants will be able to have clearer perspective to involve in development cooperation as development workers or any other form of involvement.

Inter Division Common Subjects

Introduction to Area Studies

Faculty members within the graduate school use their own research as the basis for discussing the characteristics of area studies, which is unlike “normal science,” and talking about its history, results, prospects, and issues in omnibus format.

Seminar on Asian and African Area Studies

Beginning in Week 1, we will hold seminars and training sessions about practical themes. The specific themes will include such things as computer literacy and networks, an itroduction to the library facilities, field language and area studies, workshop on the observation of Asian and African useful plants, modeling observations by game theory, fundamentals of food poisoning, introduction to GIS, genealogical method and its data analysis, practical training at Ashiu Forest Research Station (retreat-style training), and what to research in the field: practice in the KJ method of brainstorming. The final week will be a summary.

Open Seminar on African Area Studies

Students present the results of their own work in African area studies in conferences, academic meetings or symposia that are open to researchers from this university’s other graduate schools and other educational and research institutions as well as the public. Students will learn how to present their research and deal with question-and-answer sessions in an actual research meeting or conference setting and will discuss points that need improvement with their academic advisers.

Training on Research Presentation I

The objective of this course is practical training in techniques for creating research plans for overseas academic investigations. We will discuss the research plans and try to help students clarify the direction of their future research and the specific ways to go about it, as well as teaching them skills for creating plans to do research in foreign languages.

Training on Research Presentation II

The objective of this course is practical training in techniques needed for presenting the results of one’s overseas research on one’s own. Students will learn techniques for making sophisticated oral presentations in a foreign language, and in doing so will cultivate the necessary methods for self-expression and the foreign language skills required of researchers.

International Research-Group Program for Graduate Students

Students will gain an ability of research communication and management in organizing the international collaborative research project and its workshop presentation on various topics of Area Studies.

Risk and society

This class employs interdisciplinary perspectives with an area studies approach; deals with issues concerning health risks with particular focus on ethical problems involved or consensus building. The Part I deals with problems concerning technologies, institutions, and ethics involved in efforts to address HIV infectious diseases in Africa and tsunami disaster in Japan. Objectives include: 1) to compare different perspectives of the stakeholders (including policy makers, experts, and the people living with HIV and the people who live in areas vulnerable to tsunamis), 2) to discuss relevance of current interventions to address HIV and tsunamis. The Part II deals with case studies, focusing on several Asian countries. We will: 1) identify public health risks imposed by infectious diseases (including the ones that follow disasters) and other diseases, 2) to understand social, economic and political elements of the risks, 3) to discuss/plan countermeasures and ways to create social and political consensus as a leader in dealing with public health risks in society. Instructors will guide non-native English speakers to become more comfortable to express opinion in English to participate actively in the classroom discussion.

Swahili I

Swahili is the national language of Tanzania and Kenya. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in East Africa. The major goals of this course are to enable students to understand basic Swahili grammer and get a reading skill of the elementary level. It is also the aim to develop communicative skills in Swahili for daily conversation. To get better understanding about distinctive expressions in Swahili, their cultural and social backgrounds will be explained.

Swahili II

Swahili is the national language of Tanzania and Kenya. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in East Africa. The major goals of this course are to enable students to develop understanding on Swahili grammer and get a reading skill of the intermediate level. It is also the aim to develop essential skills in Swahili for communications. To get better understanding about distinctive expressions in Swahili, their cultural and social backgrounds will be explained.

Amharic I

Amharic is one of major languages of Ethiopia, and has a unique writing system. The language is widely used in Amhara resion, Addis Ababa, and other cities in the country. This class deals with basic knowledge of Amharic conversations, grammar, and the writing system. It also deals with local culture related to the use of the language.

Seminars

DAAS provides the Wednesday seminar, “seminars I, II, III, IV”, every week. All faculty staff, graduate students, and research fellows in DAAS attend this seminar. Graduate students give their presentations on their research proposals and research outcomes for their pre-doctoral and doctoral theses. Graduate students can also organize informal small-scale seminars by themselves to present their research progress, besides the Wednesday seminar. In addition to these seminars, graduate students, research fellows, and faculty staff organize study meetings on recent research topics in African Studies, discussion seminars on books and academic papers, and screenings on ethnographic films.

Research Seminar on African Areas Studies I

Students will learn basic issues and methods in African area studies.

Research Seminar on African Areas Studies II

Students will examine specific examples in African area studies that illuminate how to structure research topics and how to apply appropriate methods for their elucidation. Evaluations and guidance will be offered based on a broad-based understanding of areas of expertise relating to research for a pre-doctoral thesis.

Research Seminar on African Areas Studies III

Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues addressed by, and the research methods in, African area studies. Appraisal and guidance will be given from a multiplicity of angles on the writing up of their doctoral dissertations.

Research Seminar on African Areas Studies IV

Students will be taught the latest issues and research methods in African area studies. They will discuss each other’s doctoral dissertations, and will be given evaluation and guidance with a view to conducting truly creative and independent research.