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Postcolonial Urbanisms: Development, Environment, and Social Movements in Senegal

TRAVL-UG 9801; Professor Rosalind Fredericks
January 4-23, 2013

Students visiting the Guediawaye Hip Hop Center

Students visiting the Guediawaye Hip Hop Center


This course is open to undergraduate students of all NYU schools. Applicants must have completed at least two full-time college semesters and be currently enrolled in a college or university. Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing.

Gallatin students please note: this course fulfills four units of the Interdisciplinary Seminar core requirement.

Course Description

This travel course examines urban development in the postcolonial global South through the lens of cities in Senegal, West Africa. Like elsewhere across the global South, Senegal is rapidly becoming urban. This process implies a host of important transformations and challenges for development, the environment, and the socio-political lives of city-dwellers. Owing to the country’s particular development trajectory, long history of urbanization, and important legacy as one of Africa’s strongest democracies, Senegal provides an especially fascinating place to examine these dynamics and grapple with their implications for urbanism in the global South and beyond.

Rejecting the language of crisis, chaos, and exception that is so often used to characterize urbanization in the global South, the course provides theoretically and experientially informed perspectives on the way postcolonial cities work as well as the challenges that remain. Though we will draw on readings from across the global South, the course will focus on the dynamic intersections of development, environment, and social movements in Senegal in light of the country’s particular history, geography, culture, and politics.

Specifically, the course will be based Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, but will include overnight trips to the other important Senegalese cities of Saint Louis (the colonial capital of French West African) and Touba (the holy city of Senegal's Islamic Mouride brotherhood) to compare the form and function of these alternative urban histories and development strategies. Through a combination of course readings, classroom lectures, tours, walks, and field visits, we will explore the legacies of colonialism and unpack a number of key contemporary debates and challenges faced by urban planners and city residents. Within Dakar, specific daytrips will include: Goree Island, the municipal garbage dump, a traditional fishing village, and a hip hop community center Through these lectures and fieldtrips, we will be exposed to multiple challenges and approaches to development from a broad variety of actors, including municipal governments, NGOs, and grassroots community-based organizations.

The class is taught in English and meets daily. Group field visits occur throughout the week and on weekends. Students are required to utilize accommodations arranged by Gallatin.  They will live in a hotel for part of the program, and will also spend up to one week in a home-stay with a Senegalese family. Survival Wolof and French language training will be offered at the beginning of the program.

Students are required to fly as a group on roundtrip airfare purchased by Gallatin. The flight leaves NYC departing on Jan. 4 and returns to NYC on Jan. 23.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition for 4 points: $5,004

Program Fee: $1,500 (includes airfare, housing, local travel, excursions, language lessons and most meals)

Deposit: A non-refundable deposit of $400 will be due approximately one week after your acceptance into the program.  The deposit is subtracted from the cost of the course.

Vaccines: Senegal requires proof of Yellow Fever vaccine for entry into the country.  Check the CDC's recommended vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor 4-6 weeks before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need.  Students are responsible for this expense.

Application Requirements

APPLICATION HAS CLOSED; we are no longer accepting applications

Your application will be reviewed only after the following items have been received by Gallatin's Office of Global Programs:

  • Completed online application
  • Personal Statement
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Brief letter of recommendation from a faculty member or primary academic adviser

Admission decisions are based on strength of academic performance, personal statement, and space remaining in the program. Program is filled on a rolling basis and may fill without notice. Applicants will be notified of their application satus on or before Nov. 11, 2013.  After students have been notified of his or her acceptance, an initial non-refundable deposit of $400 will be required to secure his or her place in the program.

Personal Statement

Please craft a 250-500 word personal statement addressing your academic and personal reasons for wanting to participate in this course. This should include details on how this course will fit into your concentration and academic plans. It should also detail any previous experience that will inform your participation in the course, including relevant coursework, language training, and travel abroad. Students should upload the personal statement to the online application.

Unofficial Transcript

Please attach a .pdf of your transcript to the online application. Students may provide an unofficial copy. You can also mail or deliver your transcript to Melissa Daniel, Gallatin Office of Global Programs 411 Lafayette St., 3rd floor New York, NY 10003.

Letter of Recommendation

Please submit a brief letter of recommendation from a faculty member or primary academic advisor that speaks of your academic standing and ability to study away in an intensive course. Letters may be mailed or hand delivered to the address above, or emailed to gallatin.global@nyu.edu.

Rosalind Fredericks

Rosalind Fredericks

Rosalind Fredericks’ research and teaching interests are centered on the political economy of development, global urbanism and postcolonial identities in Africa. With a background in cultural geography, her own work is focused on urban politics and social movements in contemporary Dakar, Senegal. more>

Gallatin students in Dakar & Saint Louis Senegal, 2013:

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