Teaching Africa with complexities and nuance
When Brandon D. Lundy arrived at Kennesaw State University a few years ago, he quickly convened a faculty panel to investigate ways of incorporating the study of Africa into existing curricula.
“We started looking for materials, and we discovered that there just weren’t many good resources out there, especially when it came to teaching,” says Lundy.
Soon, Lundy and fellow KSU professor Solomon Negash set out to create a unique textbook, one that included a plethora of strategies for bringing Africa into the classroom. At the same time, they wanted to dispel entrenched myths and stereotypes among faculty and students alike. The result — “Teaching Africa: A Guide for the 21st-Century Classroom” — will be released in May by Indiana University Press.
“Often what we find in the classroom is that people have a very superficial understanding of certain things on the continent of Africa — more so than in other regions of the world,” says Lundy. “I think a good place to start is understanding that there’s no such thing as a single Africa. My perspective is based on my experience in [Portuguese speaking] West Africa, but we were intent on including multiple perspectives from many different regions – including from researchers who come from Africa.”
“Teaching Africa” includes nearly 30 authors from a wide swath of American academia — from Harvard to Sonoma University and many points in between.
“We have chapters on technology, dance, STEM and all different themes throughout the book,” says Lundy. “So we’re hoping this can be incorporated into a number of different classrooms, not just the straightforward African studies class.”
Considering how the U.S. thinks about Africa
“Teaching Africa” was, at least in part, inspired by Curtis Kiem’s seminal anthropological book, “Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind.” In it, Kiem examined the way in which Africa is presented in popular U.S. media and its effects on perceptions.