Africa Rising: Hip Hop, Politics, and Critical Resilience in Senegal

Faculty Seminar Overview

The goal of this faculty seminar is to provide a deeper understanding of the vitality, resilience, and global breadth of contemporary African communities through an experiential engagement with hip-hop and urban cultures as decolonial voices that constantly engage the limits of coloniality.

The seminar will particularly focus on the ways hip-hop and urban cultures are changing the political, religious, and economic landscape in Senegal and, by extrapolation, in the African continent. Because hip-hop music often offers an immediate narrative of the political, we will also address the impact of Covid-19 on the production of music and music as a political tool in a pandemic.

Using music as a political and aesthetic expression against Empire, we will explore the way hip-hop and urban cultures offer disenfranchised Senegalese masses possibilities to critique and delink from coloniality in their everyday lives. Hip-hop and urban cultures will be studied as means to create links and spaces of solidarity between African descendants and economically disenfranchised peoples from the Global North and the Global South.  

Our ultimate objective is to question dominant narratives and underline the importance of a transformative collective consciousness. We look to hip-hop as a lens to critically examine economic and cultural globalization, immigration, identity, nation, nationality, democracy, human rights, and equality – all in the global context of a pandemic that has once again laid bare and exacerbated massive global inequities of colonialism. 

Seminar Themes to be explored on the faculty seminar in Senegal: 

  • History of Hip-Hop in Africa 
    • Hip-Hop, Urban Cultures, and the Grammar of Decoloniality 
    • Hip-Hop, Decoloniality, and Liberation 
  • Coloniality, Decolonial Thinking, and the Necessity of New Pedagogies 
    • Hip-Hop and Democracy 
  • The Four Elements: Graffiti, Slam, Breakdancing, and D-Jaying
    • Hip-Hop and Traditional African Music 
  • Hip-Hop, Urban Cultures, and Identity
    • Race, Ethnicity, and Belonging in Senegal 
  • Hip-Hop, Urban Cultures, and Entrepreneurship 
  • Hip-Hop, Politics, and the Global Health Crisis

At a Glance

Dates: June 12-20, 2022 

Location: Dakar, Senegal, with excursions to Gorée Island and Saint Louis

Who should participate? This seminar is interdisciplinary in nature and is open to all interested faculty participants. Faculty with a research or teaching interest in the following fields may find this seminar particularly valuable: African studies, African-American studies, anthropology, art history, black studies, communication studies, cultural studies, dance, hip-hop studies, musicology, global studies, and sociology.

How to Apply: Applications are now open here. To apply, please download and complete application and email a completed copy to facultyseminars@sit.edu.

Application Deadline: April 4, 2022

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this seminar, participants will be able to:

  • Analyze the concept of diaspora and its corollaries (concepts of roots, nations, and nationality) from a decolonial perspective 
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the vitality, resilience, and global breadth of contemporary African and African diaspora communities 
  • Articulate the ways in which African urban hip-hop functions as a means for creating links, spaces, and solidarities between African descendants and economically disenfranchised peoples from the Global North and the Global South 
  • Illustrate the pervasive nature of coloniality in Black Communities globally 
  • Appraise the complex role of African urban hip-hop as a decolonial pedagogy that engages the limits of coloniality, global capitalism, and local political realities 
  • Articulate how African urban hip-hop functions as decolonial pedagogical praxes and counterhegemonic movements against cultural and economic imperialism in the U.S., in Africa, and in Europe 
  • Meaningfully relate the impact of Covid-19 on the production, content, and politics of hip-hop and the role of hip hopers in activism  
Seminar Activities

Lectures and workshops may include:

  • Decolonization is Not a Metaphor: Rethinking the History of the World One Beat at a Time 
  • The Boomerang Effect: From Africa to the US and Back: A Short History of Hip-Hop in Senegal 
  • The Four Elements and the Development of Hip-Hop in Senegal 
  • Hip-Hop, Urban Cultures, and the Grammar of Decoloniality 
  • Music on the frontlines: Covid-19, politics, and calls to action

Site visits, field-based activities, and excursions may include:

  • Saint Louis — Frequently compared to New Orleans, Saint Louis is a Creole city that was created at the onset of colonization. Saint Louis defies the traditional understanding of Africa as rooted in precolonial cultures. A fundamentally hybrid land that emerged in the context of slavery and colonization, Saint Louis is, today, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Senegal. Its urban cultural scene is particularly diverse as it is situated at the crossroads of Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Muslim World.  
  • Goree Island The iconic landmark of the transatlantic slave trade—a site that carries heavy historical footprints. Goree has been presented as a stopover for some 20 million enslaved Africans being brought to the Caribbean and the U.S. In Goree, we will get the chance to explore the complexity of power during colonial times and and its effects on contemporary black cultures on the continent and abroad.
  • Guediaway — The mythical neighborhood of Guediawaye is one of the most important centers of production of urban cultures in Senegal. It is the home of G hip-hop, a hip-hop collective that is engage in transforming social transformation, and educational decoloniality, and sustainable development. Guediawaye, one of the most disenfranchised neighborhoods in Senegal is also an incommensurable source of talent, creativity, and innovation.  
  • Pikine and Thiaroye– Two lower middle-class neighborhoods that are home to Africulturban. Here we will see the socio-political impacts of Hip Hop on the local community with a focus on the way it participates in the development of a new creole Senegalese culture while giving economic perspectives to disenfranchised youth. 
Sample Schedule

June 12 (Sunday)

  • Arrival in Dakar
  • Welcome dinner

June 13 (Monday)

  • Orientation
  • Tour of Dakar with a focus on hip-hop spaces

June June 14 (Tuesday)

  • History and Development of Hip-Hop in Senegal 
  • Site Visit & Workshop: Pikine and Thiaroye, Africulturban – Slam and Cypher

June 15 (Wednesday)

  • Hip-Hop, Decoloniality, and Liberation, Malal Talla
  • Site Visit: Guediaway

June 16 (Thursday) 

  • Site visit Preparation Lecture
  • Visit to Gorée Island

June 17 (Friday)

  • Depart for Saint Louis
  • Visit to Saint-Louis Photography Museum

June 18 (Saturday)

  • Site Visit: Saint Louis
  • Talk on Hip Hop, De-centralization, and Urban Cultures in Saint Louis
  • Performance

June 19 (Sunday)

  • Return to Dakar 
  • Final debrief; consider future projects 
  • Program evaluation
  • Farewell dinner

June 20 (Monday)

  • Departure
Seminar Faculty

Cheikh Thiam, PhD

Academic Director

SIT Senegal: Hip-hop, African Diaspora and Decolonial Futures

Photo of Cheikh Thiam

Cheikh has a BA from Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar and an MA and PhD in comparative literature from Binghamton University. He comes to SIT with a strong background in US higher education. He is a founding member of The Dakar Institute of African Studies and an associate editor of Research in African Literatures, the premiere journal in African literature. Cheikh has also served as an associate professor of African American studies, African studies, and French at The Ohio State University and directed study abroad programs in Senegal over the last ten years. A leading voice in negritude studies, Cheikh is the author of Return to the Kingdom of Childhood: Re-envisioning the Legacy and Philosophical Relevance of Negritude (Ohio State University Press, 2014), the first book focusing on the philosophical work of Leopold Sedar Senghor. He was also the editor of Negritude Reloaded, a special issue of Journal on African Philosophy. He has recently completed a second manuscript, Negritude Beyond Negritude: Glissant, Gilroy, Mabanckou and Senghor’s Africentered Philosophy and is currently writing a mytho-biography of Leopold Sedar Senghor from the perspective of the elders of Joal and Djiloor. His articles have appeared in literature and philosophy journals such as Ethiopiques, West Africa Review, La Revue Africaine, La Revue du Graat, French Review, Research in African Literature, Dalhousie French Review, and Journal on African Philosophy.

Education
PhD, Binghamton University
MA, Binghamton University
BA, Université Cheikh Anta Diop

Admissions Process & Eligibility

Eligibility and Admissions Criteria
This seminar is designed for active faculty from U.S. institutions of higher education. Admission decisions are based on the relevance of the seminar’s focus to the applicant’s areas of interest, academic background, research, and/or courses taught.

Preference may be given to applicants and/or schools with past experience on SIT’s programs or site visits. An applicant’s experience in the program location may be considered, but in-country experience is not essential.

How to Apply: Applications are now open here. To apply, please download and complete application and email a completed copy to facultyseminars@sit.edu.

Program Cost & Scholarships

The program fee for the Africa Rising: Hip-hop, Politics, and Religion in Senegal seminar is $2,995 per participant. This fee includes:

  • Accommodations in single rooms in tourist-class hotels 
  • Most meals, including a welcome dinner and farewell banquet 
  • Transportation for all program activities, including airport pick-up and send-off 
  • All program activities  
  • Health insurance for the duration of the program 
  • Pre-departure preparation materials, including informational materials, syllabus, and pre-program assignments 

The program fee does not include:

  • International airfare to/from Senegal
  • Passport and/or visa fees, if required (visa not required for US citizens)
  • Immunizations, if needed
  • Personal expenses

A nonrefundable $400 deposit will be due within three weeks of notification of admission. Payment in full is due 30 days prior to the start of the program.

Scholarships
A limited number of scholarships are available for each seminar. Award decisions are based on financial need and other factors. To apply for a scholarship, please download and complete the Faculty Seminar Scholarship Application and email a completed copy to facultyseminars@sit.edu.