Fall 2020 - IS 325 D400

Social Movements in a Changing Africa (4)

Class Number: 8403

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



From peasant uprisings and student protests to armed insurrections, this course explores the range of African social movements and assesses their role in shaping Africa's future. Key themes include the role of ethnicity and religion, the impact of urbanization, economic inequality, gender politics, and trends in international solidarity and engagement. Students who have taken IS 319 with this topic may not take this course for further credit.


Over the past thirty years, the African continent has undergone a dramatic political and economic transformation. Dozens of countries became nominal democracies, and their economies were liberalized, even as Africa became increasingly integrated into the international economic system. Despite these developments, however, the broad swath of the population has relatively little influence over the narrow elites that have ruled since independence, and the privatization of the state has further entrenched existing inequalities. This course will examine how citizens across the continent have reacted to these changes through social movements and other forms of political contestation. We will study the ideology, social networks, and strategies of these movements, which range from non-violent student protests to NGO activism and armed mobilization.

The course will be taught synchronously.


Students will finish the course with the following knowledge and skills:

  • A broad understanding of major political and social trends in African politics since the 1960
  • A basic familiarity with major paradigms, concepts, and theories in the social scientific study of social movements
  • The ability to critically evaluate competing theories of and methodological approaches to popular mobilization


  • Participation 15%
  • Reading responses (2 x 10%) 20%
  • Group presentation 30%
  • Final Essay 35%


Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.


This course will be delivered via online platforms, such as Zoom, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.

Students are required to have a computer, with a microphone, webcam, and speakers. They also must have good access to the Internet.

Microsoft Office is required, and a free version of Office 365 is available to SFU students here: https://www.sfu.ca/itservices/technical/software/office365.html.

Students will be required to upload assignments to Canvas and through Turnitin.com.



Zachariah Mampilly and Adam Branch, Africa Uprising, 2015.

Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement, 2011.

Robin D.G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, 2003.

Frederick Cooper, Africa since 1940: the past of the present, 2019.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).