PS 362 African International Relations

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an intensive introduction to the broad structures and processes of international politics and foreign policy in Africa.  Although we shall pay some attention to historical legacies of both the precolonial and colonial periods, the course will emphasize many of the major themes and patterns that have characterized African international relations since independence in 1960, and especially the more recent events that have shaped African international relations since the end of the Cold War.  Among these are the interventions of both African and external powers in crisis situations; the pervasive legacies of the Cold War itself; the constraints that economic dependency and poverty place on the foreign policies of most African states; the increasing prominence of non-state actors in Africa’s international arena (such as nongovernmental organizations, warlords, and rebels of various sorts); and the role of various continental and regional organizations in the resolution of internal and international conflicts. Throughout the semester we shall also think about how international relations affects ordinary individuals as they go about their daily lives.

In addition, we shall consider both how and why many of the behavioral patterns, operational “rules,” and normative assumptions of African international relations prevalent during the first three decades of independence are now in flux.  For Africa, as well as for the rest of the world, 1989 was a watershed that altered dramatically many basic and long-accepted tenets of international politics.  Old policies and perceptions dissolved as the Cold War came to an end. Analysts are increasingly questioning even fundamental assumptions such as state sovereignty and the “sanctity” of international boundaries.  African politicians and political leaders, like our own, are now searching for new ways of maneuvering in an increasingly complex international environment.  How these changes will affect future patterns of African international relations will be a subject for continuing discussion throughout the semester.  A major goal of this course, therefore, will be to develop a “sense” and a “feel” for these emerging patterns that will stand you in good stead long after the current names and faces have passed from the scene.