Africana Studies

Africana Studies is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the people of the African continent and people of African descent in the global African Diaspora. As an area of concentration, Africana Studies exposes students to the historical, political, social, economic, and cultural systems and institutions that frame the lived conditions and experiences of Africana peoples in the countries of the African continent and in its diasporic populations. In addition, Africana Studies critically interrogates the various socio-historical contexts in which racialized western epistemologies developed, while examining such neglected areas of study as the important contributions to human labor, political and cultural expression, social development, and science and industry made by people of African descent in the modern era. Africana Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the philosophical foundations of knowledge production and highlights the complex interaction between resistance, identity and culture in providing an enabling context for a range of identitarian expressions by Africans and peoples of African descent. It also provides a critical approach to selected historical, social and cultural processes that are essential to an enhanced understanding of contemporary globalization.

Africana Studies as it is structured today grew out of the curricular transformation generated by the international process of decolonization and by the changes wrought by the civil rights and Black Power eras that called for social, political, and economic justice in the United States and abroad and demanded a more diverse and inclusive educational agenda. As also is true for the related fields of Asian American Studies and Latinx Studies, the field has grown and expanded since its origins more than four decades ago. Africana Studies in the contemporary era incorporates varied disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, but retains its distinctive focus on social justice. The field also highlights key moments of black resistance and revolution as well as 19th and early- and mid-20th century intellectual movements focusing on various political, linguistic, and cultural factors undergirding the experiences of peoples of Africa and its global diaspora.

The goal of in-depth study of Africa and the African Diaspora is the development of critical thinking, research, and writing skills that emerge from an increased awareness of the political, social, cultural, and historical roles played by peoples of African descent. A primary goal of the track is to give students a broader and more contextualized understanding of the scope and substance of the black experience in a variety of related areas. Graduates of Africana Studies go on to careers in academia, government, education and public service. The intellectual skills acquired in this discipline are also an excellent preparation for careers in public health, public policy and urban planning, journalism, law and criminal justice, business, and the international sector.

Explore Fall 2024 course offerings in Africana Studies