Luther students, including Africana Studies majors and minors, wrote about their experiences during three 2017 J-Term study away courses traveled to Africa and Brazil.
Africana Studies professor Novian Whitsitt joined Religion Professor Guy Nave in teaching a Paideia 450 in Ghana. Read about their students' experiences in "Christianity, Slavery, and Their Representations in Ghanaian Literature." This course explored the complex connections between Christianity and the North Atlantic slave trade by: (1) examining slave routes and the geography of enslavement in Ghana, visiting cities such as Tamale, Salaga, and Kumasi—exploring landmarks and institutions of the slave industry throughout Ghana; (2) studying and visiting the Cape Coast and El Mina slave castles; and (3) examining and interpreting historical, literary and religious texts related to slavery. They spoke with local Ghanaians throughout the travels, specifically about their understanding, memory, and relationship to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Anthropology professor Lori Stanley took students to Tanzania to study "People and Parks: Pastoralism and Conservation in East Africa." This course examined the tensions between the national parks movement and pastoralist societies through the lens of the Maasai people of northern Tanzania and southern Kenya.
Of particular interest is how wildlife conservation efforts and ecotourism have impacted the relationship of the Maasai to their environment, in turn causing rapid cultural change such as shifts from herding to agropastoralism and wage labor; modification of coming-of-age rituals; and increasing adoption of formal modes of education and Christianity in place of or alongside traditional modes and beliefs.
Political Science Professor Pedro dos Santos took students to study "Development, Inequality, and Race in Brazil." This course took students to four Brazilian cities to explore the relationship between these three realities. By visiting the former colonial capital (Salvador in the Northeast of the country), the former imperial capital (Rio de Janeiro, in the Southeast region), the current capital (Brasília, in the Center West region), and a city by the Amazon River (Belém, in the Northern region), students learned about the historical contexts that have created Brazil as a nation while also seeing firsthand the economic, social, cultural, and racial diversity of the country.