Midterm Review Sheet/Study Guide
ANTH 313/Understanding Contemporary Africa
Spring 2011/ Dr. Roberts
The exam will consist of multiple choice, true-false, matching questions, and one or two essays.
Please bring a #2 pencil. Thanks.
Images of Africa
Readings: Gordon & Gordon Chapter 1; Online: Michira: Images of Africa in the Western Media
Video(s): T Shirt Travels
What does James Michira say about images of Africa in the Western media and how does this accord with the
portrayal of life in Zambia as depicted in the video “T Shirt Travels”?
Geography & Climates
Readings: Gordon & Gordon Chapter 2 (Neff: A Geographic Preface).
Video(s): Africa: geography and climate.
How does Africa compare with the U.S. and the rest of the world in terms of total landmass?
What is the nature of the landmass that comprises the African continent (hint: my remarks in lecture and Neff’s
chapter on geography) and what implications does this have?
What is the ITCZ and why is it so important for a proper understanding of African geography?
Approximately how much of Africa lies within the tropics? What are the implications of this?
What role does disease play in distribution of human and livestock populations in Africa?
What role did colonialism play in defining contemporary African political geography?
In my lecture remarks I spoke of economic islands in Africa. Why? What factors did I identify as being
responsible in producing these islands?
Prehistory & Precolonial History
Readings: Gordon & Gordon Chap. 3 (O’Toole: The Historical Context, pp. 23-41).
Video(s): Gates: The Swahili Coast.
What were the 3 major developments in early human evolution and why were they important?
What were some of the other major steps taken later in the course of human evolution?
What generalization can be made about the nature of technological change throughout the Paleolithic? (AKA
What was entailed in the Neolithic in Africa? What were the implications of these changes in Africa and
What was involved in the Bantu Expansion? Where did it occur and when?
What does O’Toole say about political patterns of the past? Specifically, why does he distinguish between
stateless and state societies?
Be familiar with some of the early African kingdoms/empires? When did they exist? Where were they? What
role did trade have in the development of these centralized political systems?
Slave trade, colonialism, liberation
Readings: Gordon & Gordon Chap. 3 (O’Toole: The Historical Context, pp. 41-54);Online: Nyerere:Freedom&Unity
Video(s): Africa: States of Independence.
Based upon O’Toole’s chapter (pp. 41-43) and my remarks in class, be familiar with the reasons behind the
African slave trade, the reasons for its demise, and the impacts on African societies and cultures.
What was “legitimate” trade?
What was the “Scramble for Africa”?
What was the nature of colonial rule in Africa?
Why was World War II so important in the beginning of the end of colonialism in Africa?
What does Julius Nyerere call for in Freedom and Unity?
Making a Living
Readings: Online: African Economies: Food Production
Video(s): Davidson: Mastering a Continent
How do most Africans make a living today? What other kinds of activities do Africans engage in to survive
(identified in the online reading)?
Be familiar with some of the differences (identified in the online reading) between “subsistence” and
What kinds of crops are grown in different parts of Africa?
What role does trade play in African economies? How/why did I distinguish between market and marketplace?
Be familiar with the 3 ethnographic case studies in Davidson’s video Mastering a Continent
Kinship and Family
Readings: Gordon and Gordon Chapter (Shanklin: Family and Kinship); Online:Globalization and the African kinship
network system: will it sustain?; Family, Kinship, and Domestic Groupings
Video(s): Mazrui: A legacy of Lifestyles.
What kinds of descent principles tend to be found in Africa and how do they compare with ours?
What kinds of marriage practices exist in Africa? How are they both similar to and different from ours?
How do African families compare with ours in the west? Is this changing? If so, how?
Religion in Africa
Readings: Gordon and Gordon Chapter 11 (Moyo: Religion in Africa); online: Summary of African Systems of
Video: Witchcaft Among the Azande
What does Moyo say about traditional African religions? Christianity? Islam?
In my lecture remarks I tried to point out some general characteristics of traditional African religions. What were
they? What about witchcraft?
Anthropologist Ivan Karp claims that Africans don't necessarily think the same way that westerners do. Be aware
of some of the most significant differences that I discussed in class.