Children, who are emaciated with protruding bellies and fly-infested faces, are crying for food, or worse,
already motionless in their mothers’ arms. For many, such a shocking scene is typically associated with
Africa. This popular imagery has its origin in mass media that are often sensationalistic as to African
coverage. The truth is that Africa is the continent of wonderfully rich and diverse cultures, where
people live their vibrant everyday life. Yet, from this, it does not immediately follow that Africa is a
trouble-free region. Just as Japan and other industrial countries have many social problems, Africa
does have critical issues to be pursued.
This course is intended to explore some of the major problems that Africa is currently facing. This year
we will focus on problems and possibilities associated with communities in contemporary Africa.
Using wide range of academic disciplines, we will explore the social and cultural aspects of medicine
and illness in Africa.
Thus, the topics we deal with include:(1) complexity and flow of medical cultures, (2) social relations
and power in medicine, (3) capitalism, the state and medicine, (4) development and decline of
bio-medicine, (5) traditional medicine and professionalisation, (6) religion as medicine, (7) cultural
understanding and social consequences of AIDS pandemic.
Message to those taking this Course:
The course comprises lectures and class works. For class works, students are required to read and
summarise a part of books or articles (minimum 30 pages per week) before attending the class. In the
class, students will discuss their readings in a small group and then present it in front of all the rest.
In addition, there are special lecture given by Africanist scholars once in a while. The lectures are
meant to give an opportunity to learn up-to-date studies of African societies, cultures and medicine.
While they take place apart from the schedule class, you are advised to attend them.
Assessment is based on active participation in class works and an essay (3000 words) submitted at the
end of the term.