Study Abroad Programs and Tourism

Senegal & The Gambia: Traditions, Globalization, and Tourism in West Africa

Since 2010, FIU’s African & African Diaspora Studies Program has been organizing a 6-week study abroad program to Senegal and The Gambia entitled Senegal & The Gambia: Traditions, Globalization, and Tourism in West Africa. It is designed to provide students with an introduction to West African cultures and traditions. The program explores the growing centrality of tourism—particularly “roots/heritage tourism,” sex tourism, and and “academic tourism”—as an increasingly significant sector of the global economy. Students are introduced to some of West Africa’s largest ethnic groups (including the Wolof, Mandinka, and Fulani), and gain rudimentary understanding of the Wolof language and culture as they explore questions related to the politics and aesthetics of constructing difference in globalized tourism.

While in Senegal (one week), students visit Gorée Island and its Maison des Esclaves (slave house), near Dakar, the capital City. Gorée is a poignant reminder of the region’s role as a West African center of the slave trade to the Americas. Students also visit the island-city of Saint Louis, which was the capital of the French colonial empire in West Africa. The trip also brings students to “the Petite Côte,” mostly known for its beautiful beaches.

In The Gambia (four weeks), students are housed in townhouses in Kololi, near Banjul, the capital city, for four weeks. From there, students visit, among other sites, the Makasutu culture forest and spend some time with bands of vegetarian baboons. The Gambia being a predominantly Muslim country, students also have the opportunity to visit and spend some time in sites associated with Islamic religion. Students make a number of visits of the surrounding areas, among which the village of Juffureh, which was identified by Alex Haley as the place of origin of his ancestors. Students also visit the Kunta Kinte Island (formerly known as James Island) and the ruins of Fort James, from where slaves were shipped to the Americas. The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students at FIU and other universities nationally and internationally. For a total of 6 FIU credits, undergraduate students take WOL 1170 - Introduction to Wolof Language and Culture (3 credits), and ANT 4473 - Anthropology of Globalization (3 credits), which is an FIU Global Learning (GL) course. Graduate students take ANG 6472 - Anthropology of Globalization (3 credits), and AFA 6905 - Independent Study / Directed Readings in African & African Diaspora Studies (3 credits).

AADS has organized this program in collaboration with the University of the Gambia (UTG) in Banjul and the Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in Dakar. Study abroad students have the opportunity to interact with students from these two universities. Please, click on the button called “Study Abroad” on top of the home page for more information.