AAS 495 - Senior Seminar
Winter 2022, Section 003 - Ethnographies of Exploitation
Instruction Mode: Section 003 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Afroamerican & African Studies (AAS)
Department: LSA Afroamerican and African Studies
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Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Upperclass standing.
Other Course Info:
(Cross-Area Courses).
May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/5/22 - 4/19/22 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


Studying Exploitation: Ethnography, Extraction, and the Environment in Africa

In centering “exploitation,” this course calls attention to what are perhaps the two most pressing challenges facing humanity: exploitation of people (lives and labor) resulting in gross global inequities in wealth and power, on the one hand; and exploitation of the Earth (resource extraction and commodification), on the other. Often, the two go hand-in-hand. Nowhere is this more so the case than in the resource frontiers of the Global South—the mines and hardwood forests, fisheries and fields—wherein lies the beating heart of the contemporary global economy. Long viewed and treated as peripheral sites of poverty and extraction, these spaces are increasingly recognized as central to struggles over environmental protection, sustainability, and democratic economic development—to battles over the fundamental character and consequences of modern capitalism. In this class, we’ll consider how an ethnographic approach to research—embodied and place-based, sometimes described as “working with and alongside”—might allow for a fuller understanding of such contexts through close study of people and politics, economies and ecosystems, landscapes and livelihoods. In doing so, we will pair readings and discussions about ethnography as a method with recent ethnographically-informed texts about spaces of exploitation/extraction, with a regional focus on Africa. The primary course assignment, meanwhile, will be an ethnographic project of students’ own conducted over the length of the semester focused on issues of environmental concern and social justice in Ann Arbor or students’ home communities. Students will thus learn to collect, analyze, synthesize, and draw conclusions from different forms of ethnographic evidence. Our overall goal will be to excavate whether and how ethnographic study can help to generate new forms of environmental knowledge, as well as novel understandings of and approaches to reconfiguring dynamics of “exploitation” from local to global contexts.   


AAS 495 - Senior Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22
002 (SEM)
1/5/22 - 4/19/22
003 (SEM)
 In Person
1/5/22 - 4/19/22

Textbooks/Other Materials

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