Anth 270

ANTH 272 Peoples and Cultures of Africa

The Meaning of “Hauka” in Songhay Culture

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Expository Essay Assignment

Objective: Students will gain experience using social science concepts to explain the logic of a seemingly irrational ritual practice that emerged among the Songhay people in Niger in the 20th century..

Assignment: Write a 1,200 word (minimum) expository essay that explains and analyzes the Hauka ritual. The paper must have a title page and a bibliography at the end, and these do not count toward the 1,200 word minimum. THAT’S 5 PAGES.


Required Books:




, Maria, John H. Hanson, and Patrick O’Meara (editors)


2014 Africa 4th Edition. Blo



Stoller, Paul


1997 Fusion of the Worlds: An Ethnography of Spirit Possession Among the Songhay of Niger. University of Chicago




Questions: Every research starts with some questions. Here are several questions to start your research. You may even come up with more specific questions. Your challenge is to try to answer the questions, and find data to support your answers.

1. Why did the Hauka spirits start showing up in the colonial period?
2. Why does Paul Stoller consider the Hauka ritual a “horrific comedy”?
3. Are there elements of this ritual that are similar to other rituals, such as the rain dance or the Sasale ritual?
4. In what ways does the Songhay concept “two mouths, two hearts” help explain the meaning of the Hauka ritual?
5. In what ways does the Hauka ritual demonstrate how spiritual beliefs help solve problems and comfort people?

These are questions to use as a for guide your research, not exam questions. So, don’t just repeat these questions and answer them like you would on an exam. Instead, organize your paper as an expository essay. Look at the slide show “How To Write An Expository Essay” (on Blackboard under Weekly Sessions) to see how college essays are organized. Students have told me that Part 2 is especially useful.

Data: To write your paper, you need to find data that explain your answers to the questions. You can find data in Paul Stoller’s book, Fusion of the Worlds, the film Les Maitres Fous, the course reader, Africa 4th edition, and some of the slide shows and articles that are assigned reading. Please do not use encyclopedias, Wikipedia, Spark Notes, Cliff’s Notes, or anything on the Internet. Make the best use of the course materials, particularly Stoller’s book and the film. Students who find lots of data are likely to earn higher grades.

Citing the sources: Whenever you use data from a source you need to give attribution and properly cite the source. Cite your sources in the Chicago Manual of Style format that

anthropologists use. You may have used some other method of citing sources, but the University expects students to learn how to cite using different methods. All you have to do to cite a source for anthropology papers is remember to put 3 things in your citation: (Author Date:Page). Sometimes there is no page number, so you can cite a “location number” or slide number. The AAA anthropology style guide, based on the Chicago Manual of Style, is provided to help you cite sources. Citations are extremely important in scholarly writing. If you don’t cite your sources, please do not expect to earn a high grade. You need citations throughout your paper, every time you use any data, ideas, or examples that other people have written or filmed.

Quotations: For this anthropology assignment, students are expected to paraphrase instead of “quoting,” unless the exact words of the author make a critical difference in your analysis of the data. Literature courses analyze an author’s writing style and wording, by picking a sentence or passage to “quote,” and then analyzing it. However, this is not a literature course. Anthropology is a humanistic science. Science courses, including anthropology, do not analyze an author’s writing style. Science courses analyze data, which you must summarize or paraphrase in your own words. You should be able to summarize or paraphrase information from sources, and not use “quotations” as a replacement for your own writing. If a person’s specific words are used as data, you should limit the amount of verbiage that you “quote” to just the important words that make a critical difference in your analysis. You should not have long “quotations” filling up the pages of your essay – this is called “patchwork.” Always cite a paraphrased passage or a “quotation.” Citations and quotations are two different things.

Bibliography: You list the full reference information for the source, at the end of your paper, in the bibliography section. This includes the author’s full name, the date of publication, the title, the place of publication, and the name of the publisher. Some of the course materials have not been published, so you can just cite the name of the author and the title, with “n.d.” (no date) and “unpublished” instead of a publisher.

Copying: Whatever you do, do not copy and paste any phrases or sentences off the Internet or from other people’s papers or published works, because for college term papers that’s considered plagiarism. Presenting somebody else’s writing as your work is a kind of theft, punishable by law, and the University has additional sanctions for it. Such shenanigans will earn you an F and a visit with the Dean for plagiarism. Therefore, be sure to study the slide show “How to Paraphrase,” so that you summarize and paraphrase the right way, and don’t get caught plagiarizing.

Editing: Edit your paper before turning it in. You can use a spell checker, but that won’t be enough. Go through manually and look for spelling and grammar errors. University students are expected to have good spelling and grammar. Study the slide show “How to Write an Expository Essay” for tips. Toss out sentences that do not relate directly to the analysis. Get rid of “fluffy writing” (see slide show). Make your sentences as clear as possible. Get rid of typos. Get rid of subtitles. Do not put any extra space between paragraphs. The paper should be double spaced (no more, no less). Use Times New Roman font, 12-point. Make sure the first sentence of each paragraph is indented 5 spaces.


Do not include photographs in your paper, unless they are your own photographs and they are relevant to the topic.

Manage your sentences. Every complete sentence contains two parts: a subject (who or what) and a predicate (the action by or on the subject). An incomplete sentence is missing one of those, even if it looks like a long sentence: make sure each sentence has both a subject and a predicate. A run-on sentence is actually two or more sentences strung together, where each one should have a period at the end of it. They should be turned into separate sentences. Shorter sentences are usually clearer. If you have a long sentence, take a careful look and see if you can divide it into two sentences. Keep the words business-like. Don’t use colloquialisms in an expository essay. Use idiomatic English.

Manage your paragraphs. Each paragraph should have a “topic sentence” somewhere in it, preferably at the beginning of the paragraph. The “topic sentence” tells the reader what this paragraph is going to deal with. In a short paper like this, the paragraphs should be roughly half a page. A paragraph is a “unit of analysis,” not just one or two sentences. If you have a paragraph that goes on for more than two-thirds of a page, you might check it to see if there are actually two or more themes in there that need separate treatment, in separate paragraphs. Introduce the point you’re making in this paragraph in the first sentence. Provide data and examples in the other sentences to bolster the point you made at the beginning of the paragraph.

Format: The paper has to be formatted in Microsoft Word, or it will not be accepted; I use Word technology to grade the papers. Your paper must have a separate title page at the beginning and a separate bibliography page at the end, all in the same (single) Word file as the text of your paper. Do not use footnotes, endnotes, photos, or photos and decorations. Double-space the text of your essay. Use one-inch margins. Do not right-justify the text. Use 12-point font that is easy to read such as Cambria (Mac) or Times (PC). The Title Page must not have any extra formatting in it – no Microsoft picture frames or style formats – just type the text on the title page, and that’s all. Keep it simple and business-like. Use the Chicago style of citing sources (Author-Date-Page) in each citation (inside of your sentences) and the full reference information in the bibliography (author’s full name, date, full title of the work, place of publication, name of publisher. Be sure to include a page number, location number, or slide number wherever these are available.

Editing: Edit your paper before turning it in. If you turn in a sloppily written paper, it won’t earn a high grade. Use a spell checker, but that won’t be enough. Go through manually and look for spelling and grammar errors. Study the slide show “How to Write an Expository Essay” for tips. Toss out sentences that do not relate directly to the analysis. Get rid of “fluffy writing” (see slide show). Make your sentences as clear as possible. Get rid of typos. Get rid of subtitles. Do not put any extra space between paragraphs. The paper should be double spaced (no more, no less). Use Times New Roman font, 12-point. Make sure the first sentence of each paragraph is indented 5 spaces. Do not include photographs in your paper. 

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