This course explores Africa’s interactions with and influences on the international legal system. It will begin with an overview of select pre-colonial societies. From there, the course will investigate the international legal and political economy justifications of the slave trade. Next, we will study the legal processes of colonization and state formation, including the transplantation of imported legal systems. The course will then explore the international law doctrine of self-determination and its implications for African decolonization and self-rule during the early and formative periods of the United Nations. Finally, we will consider Africa’s place in and influence on the global legal system from the post-independence period to the present through the prism of specific case studies to be selected jointly by students.
The course assumes no prior knowledge and/or personal experience of Africa. Requirements include regular participation in class discussions and completion of a joint research project.