Researching Africa in the 21st Century
Researching Africa in the 21st Century is a compulsory course in the MA African Studies at Leiden University, presenting to the students new tools and methodologies for conducting Africanist research that emerge with the advancement of the digital. This page is a platform where students from the course can experiment making their own projects, share their achievements, share blogs on the course and impressions from the field.
African studies is a multi- and inter-disciplinary field of knowledge production. This means that students have to learn different languages of doing research that are accompanied by different methods and methodologies. In this course these languages are discussed, especially how we apply them to understand a problem, or an object of study. Each language has its method, so it is important for an Africanist to understand the methods of the other disciplines and to be able to work with them. In this course we will introduce mixed methods.
The research environment has changed with the advancement of the digital. Not only in terms of accessing data, but also in terms of techniques to do research. The tools to do research have expanded with easy audio, photo and video; computer, i-pads etc. make text also a different experience than a pen and paper. The field has expanded to digital archives, big data, social media, etc.
In this course therefore we will give attention to:
1. What is multi- and inter-disciplinarity and how is this worked out in practice; What are the epistemological puzzles?
2. What is mixed methods, which techniques go with it? How does method go with types of data? How do digital and non-digital data relate?
3. Mastering techniques; how to handle text, video, photo and audio in research? How do we do research on the net? What are big data?
4. How do we translate data to text, and which languages can we use? We will introduce text language and visual languages. (this part will also be developed in the course language and communication in the MA programme)
5. Research ethics
During the course the students will do some (small) practical excercises, read and discuss literature and write their research proposal. The course will also be linked to a practice in dissemination research results, i.e. organization of public debates based on academic research.
Read more about the course on this page (Leiden University website).