Clandestine Africa

Barbara Cooper (History)

What makes West Africa tick?  Most observers agree that the black market plays a major role in economic, social and political life.  We will begin with contemporary debates about modern slavery in Niger by considering a number of intriguing court cases.  Having learned something about the economic, political and cultural entanglements involved in any hidden trade, we will then turn to consider traffic in information and ideas as they spread on social media and the internet. We will explore the realm of rumor, conspiracy theory, and the occult. Is there a market for human organs, babies, blood, or magic substances? Is it possible to buy nuclear grade uranium to build a bomb? Can votes be purchased? Students will explore a topic of particular interest (i.e. small arms, drugs real and fake, human trafficking, unlocked iphones), and use both academic and popular sources in order to present something interesting about “hidden trade” in West Africa.