POL 355: Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa

Dr. John J. Quinn
Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa
POL 355
Office: McClain 206D x4578

Required Texts               Assignments and Grading

This course examines the basics of the major economic and political trends, policies, and institutions of sub-Saharan Africa from the colonial period until the presentThe leading topics and issues include these: colonization, decolonization, emerging one party regimes, limited multiparty regimes, coups and their causes, democracy and its causes, development and its associated theories, the prevailing economic resources of the continent, competing economic ideologies underpinning approaches to development, structural adjustment and other external pressures on Africa, civil unrest, democracy, democratization, foreign aid, privatization, and corruption.  All are studied from international and regional perspectivesThe goal of this course is to provide students with a firm grounding in the past and present issues of sub-Saharan Africa, its most significant economic and political trends, a good understanding of at least one of the region’s countries, and a general understanding of the core concepts of development, political economy, and democratization in African and international settings.

Required texts:

Quinn, John James. Global Geopolitical Power and African Political and Economic Institutions When Elephants Fight. Lanham MD: Lexington Books, 2016.  

Rapley, John. Understanding Development: Theory and Practice in the Third World, 3rd Edition. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publications, 2007. 

Schraeder, Peter. African Politics and Society: A Mosaic in Transformation 2nd Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 

Other readings will be posted on Brightspace.

Recommended texts: (placed on reserve in the Library and will be used for class (though feel free to buy any of them as well).

Nnadozie, Emmanuel. African Economic Development New York: Academic Press, 2003. 

 Quinn, John James. The Road oft Traveled: Development Policies and Majority State Ownership of Industry in Africa Westport, CT: 2002.  [an e-book available through the library] 


Paper Assignments                                                                                                           

Each student is required to submit two papers.  Each should be between 8 – 15 (or so) pages long not counting bibliography and outlines.  The first is intended to be a brief overview of the political legacy of one sub-Saharan African country from late colonization until the late 1980s.  This paper must outline the conditions of decolonization (who colonized the country if anyone), the rise of early independence leaders and parties, the leaders and parties that led the nation during this time, the role of the military (after independence), the role of the new state in the economy during this period, and the basic trade orientation of the country from independence until the later 1980s.  Also include the major exports of the nation.  This paper should demonstrate knowledge of the political and economic trends of these countries from the colonial period through the late 1980s.  Students should show in this paper which of the regional themes discussed fit their particular country.  I will pass out a list of countries in the region, but only one student may pick one particular country.   

Similarly, the second paper requires you to examine one country in light of the emerging trends in the region from the mid-1980s on, and especially post-Cold War.  The themes of war, state collapse, economic liberalization, political liberalization, political parties and leaders (or significant changes in these areas) are to be examined within one county.  Therefore, the study of the country form the mid-1980s until the present should be undertaken in light of the broader ideas of the second half of the class.  These papers are intended to be thought papers, but should reflect both course materials as well as outside research.  Therefore, papers must include bibliographies and footnotes, though they need not be extensive.  Here again, only one student may pick one country at a time, but priority will be given to students for the country for which they wrote the first paper.  [Also, do not forget to cite sources from assigned readings where appropriate, or look at their references or citations.]  

For either paper, students can feel free to stop by the office to have me look at outlines of papers for overall approaches and concepts; however, I will not read rough drafts.  Late papers will be graded down 2% every business day that they are late (they are due at the beginning of class: so don’t ditch class on that day, or come half way through; it won’t help you).  

The papers require students to use a minimum of eight academic sources.  Although these are thought/ descriptive papers as much as research papers, they should use footnotes or endnotes as well as a bibliography to make citations [feel free to use assigned materials to the degree that they help you write the paper and apply it to your country].  Therefore, students may cite relevant books and articles assigned in the class for a few of the required citations, but they should not rely only upon assigned materials.  Students should use several articles from major political science journals or scholarly books (if you are in doubt about a specific title, ask me either in class or after or look to see if there is extensive use of footnotes and bibliographies).  Articles from popular magazines, such as Time, the Economist, or Newsweek can be listed and used as background information, or for specific matters of fact; however, they will not count toward the six sources.  Africa South of the Sahara is also a very good reference and starting point.  If there are any questions about how to make proper citations, students should consult Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.  These are available at the bookstore, as well as in the library.  Earlier editions are fine.  I will also accept the APSA format, but will not accept a combination of formats.  We will not cover in class how to make proper citations, but students are responsible for making the citations according to this convention.  Papers that use citations willy-nilly [not following a consistent format – or a poor one] will be marked down accordingly.