Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Postgraduate Course: Images, Politics and the Contemporary African Public Sphere (HIAR11134)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course engages with the relationship between art and the public sphere in transforming politics across a number of different countries in Africa and within the African diaspora since the mid-twentieth century. In the space of the public sphere, understood as constituted both physically and virtually, we will explore the ways in which the production, destruction and interaction around images bring Africans and African diasporic subjects together in relation to the variety of specific socio-political conditions in which they live.
Course description A vast number of images, including photographs, films, cartoons, paintings, textiles, and sculptures contribute to complex forms of interpersonal relations in the public sphere. In this course, we examine the production of the African public sphere and how it is constituted in geographical and virtual terms. We examine the ways in which, within the public sphere, images bring Africans together, to participate in visual production and exchange. Whereas production may be an act of cocreation that transforms personal artistic sensibilities into a collective aesthetic experience, interaction brings individual ways of seeing to bear on the image. The course explores how in these ways, the work of art in the public domain operates as a site of political articulation. It enables an evocation of history that connects to questions of identity, power, domination and dissent, and shapes current realities of living. By whom and how are the images produced, and with what technologies of production and dissemination? Similarly, we will engage with the related issue of iconoclasm to understand the political motivations for destroying or sparing public art, in the context of political protest, for example. The response of the state to all of these is explored especially in terms of how the image is implicated. Images in the context of Boko Haram insurgency for example are used simultaneously to perpetrate violence and to counter it. This is a war of images which in this course we read in relation to the rise of social media as a public space of political struggle. How do African aesthetic practices transform the theoretical underpinnings of the public sphere and politics?

The course is delivered via weekly seminars which incorporates short lectures, group work and student presentations orientated around close examinations of case studies drawn from across Africa and the diaspora. These include the Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa, Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, the Arab Spring in North Africa, and Black Lives Matter in the United States.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 x 4000 word essay 100% - submitted week 10.
Feedback Students are given feedback on FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT as follows:

Students will prepare a 500-word essay plan on which they will receive written feedback. The essay plan will be due in Weeks 5-6.

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: Written feedback on student essays will be provided.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Articulate both in writing and debate in-depth knowledge and understanding of the ways in which the production, destruction and exchange of images contribute to the constitution of an African public sphere.
  2. Understand and apply theoretical ideas relating to the production destruction and exchange of images in relation to specific political movements and communities in Africa and African diasporas.
  3. Successfully analyse and develop arguments in relation to the ways in which the production, destruction and exchange of images in Africa and within African diasporas help to constitute agency and community and contribute to specific political movements.
Reading List
Agbo, George Emeka. "Boko Haram Insurgency and a New Mode of War in Nigeria." In
Ambivalent: Photography and Visibility in African History, edited by Patricia Hayes and Gary Minkley, 260-282. Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2019.

Banner, Terron. "Black Art, Black Rage, and Black Lives Matter: The Influence of the Black Arts Movement." In Arts Management, Cultural Policy & the African Diaspora, edited by Antonio C, Cuyler 275-290. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Calderisi, Robert. "Cecil Rhodes and Other Statues: Dealing Plainly with the Past." Columbus, Ohio: Gatekeeper Press, 2021.

Carrier, Neil. "Mobile People, Phones and Photography: Somali Visual Practices in Nairobi's Eastleigh Estate." Africa 89, no. 2 (2019): 225-245.

Deutsche, Rosalyn. "Art and Public Space: Questions of Democracy." Social Text 33 (1992): 34-53.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills You will develop your skills in visual and critical analysis through discussing and writing about specific images in relation to the public sphere. Through this work you will be encouraged to articulate clear lines of argument which address and connect the theory and practice of image-making and circulation both within the African continent and beyond. The course structure and assignments will facilitate teamwork through group discussion and develop your organisation and planning skills.
KeywordsPublic sphere,iconoclasm,image sharing,african photography
Course organiserDr George Agbo
Tel: (0131 6)51 5800
Course secretaryMiss Chloe Hancock
Tel: (0131 6)50 4124
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information