Narratives of the State in Africa since the late 1980s have been dominated by images of institutional ‘fragility’, lack of legitimacy, if not outright ‘collapse’ and ‘failure’. For some, the purportedly ‘imported’ character of the State in Africa is the main cause of its structural weakness. For others, the generalisation of violent conflicts in the continent, especially in the 1990s, widespread corruption and ‘bad governance were signs of the incapacity of African States to fulfill their role and their consequent vacuity. Echoing such ‘Afro-pessimistic’ feelings, the Economist thus labelled Africa the ‘hopeless continent’ in its May 11th 2000 edition. Recently however, unprecedented economic growth rates in many parts of the continent, fuelled in large part by high prices of raw materials on the international markets and the mineral-hungry economies of China and other emerging powers, as well as the development of an ‘African middle class’, the spectacular growth of African cities and the new scramble for African land have given rise to other narratives where Africa has moved from being ‘hopeless’ to one of the new frontiers of global capitalism. With this course, students will be brought to critically reflect on such narratives. The course concentrates on the historicity of state formation processes in Africa and looks at how African states have developed as the dynamic product of internal and external influences and in close interaction with their own societies. Interdisciplinary in nature, the course will look at the following topics: From state failure to ‘Africa rising’: understanding recent changes in African states and economies; The longue durée of the African State: from precolonial State formations to decolonization; War and state formation in Africa; New territorialities of power: the changing geography of state-society relations; Economic growth vs. social development: making sense of the current boom. Evaluation: Participants are evaluated based on a group presentation on the last days of the two-weeks summer school (equivalence of 4 ECTS). Students wanting to acquire 6 ECTS have the opportunity to do so on the basis of a satisfactory take-home paper, to be written within a month after the end of the summer school.
The summer school offers a unique opportunity to learn and discuss about structures, actors and substance of global governance in dialogue with academic experts and practitioners from pertinent international organizations and NGOs based in Geneva. Next to lectures on the history of globalization, the functioning of international (governmental and non-governmental) organizations and the transformative potential of global power shifts, the emphasis will be on particular thematic fields of global governance such as trade, development, environmental protection and international migration. While all thematic fields will be approached through a combination of academic lectures and structured visits/workshops with pertinent international organizations, a particular focus of the 2016 summer school will be on the chances and challenges of global migration governance. Learning outcomes: At the end of this course, participants will have a general understanding of some of the cutting-edge issues in global governance / international politics and law today and will have established a network of contacts with academics and practitioners working in the field. This will allow them to either orient their future studies or refresh and extend existing knowledge. Evaluation: Participants are evaluated based on a group presentation on the last days of the two-weeks summer school (equivalence of 4 ECTS). Students wanting to acquire 6 ECTS have the opportunity to do so on the basis of a satisfactory take-home paper, to be written within a month after the end of the summer school.
This course asks how we should understand the various political movements that claim to act in the name of Islam. What do the Islamic State and the various affiliates of al-Qaeda in the Middle East have in common with each other, or with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, among others? What distinguishes these movements from the Taliban in Afghanistan or Boko Haram in West Africa? Why do some of these groups act or inspire others to carry out attacks in Europe and North America? To what extent can they be explained in political terms, and what exactly is the role of religion? How do they compare with non-Islamic terrorist or revolutionary movements? This course will address these and other questions by going beyond the conventional geopolitical and Western journalistic perspectives. We will examine the historical roots of political Islam, trace the origins of the movement known as Salafism and the changing uses of the term jihad. We will also look in depth at the discussions that Islamists have amongst themselves, how they see themselves and what they stand for. We will look at the jihadist poetry and the religious debates they conduct between themselves, as well as ask how people in the affected regions, especially writers and intellectuals, view the movements. Finally, there will be sessions addressing practical questions, such as how do Islamist groups acquire their weapons, and how does the global oil market affect Islamism? Interdisciplinary by its very nature, the course is taught by distinguished faculty in a variety of fields from Europe and the United States, as well as experts from the international community in Geneva. The course will treat the following topics, among others: The origins and nature of Salafism The changing uses of the term “jihad.” Arab intellectuals’ views on religion and Islamic movements The Iranian Revolution and its legacy The View from Moscow: Russia and Islam; Russia and the Middle East The poetry of the Islamic State; How do jihadists represent themselves? Arms and ammunition: How do groups get their weapons?