This class provides an introduction to contemporary African politics. The core questions that motivate the course are: (i) Why are state structures weaker in Africa than elsewhere? (ii) What accounts for Africa’s slow economic growth? (iii) Why do some African countries suffer from high levels of political violence while others are spared? In the course of the class we will see that there is in fact great variation within Africa in the strength of states, the levels of economic growth and the amount of violence; we will aim to explain that variation. To do so we will study many individual cases but we will also stand back and try to apply the tools of political science and economics to try to find some general answers to these questions.