Africa and the African Diaspora

Barbara Majchrzak, Holland Hall 327

Throughout history, African and African American peoples have played a central role on the world’s stage, and they continue to offer perspectives critical to understanding the post-modern world. The Africa/African diaspora experience has been most commonly expressed and understood through its history, arts, religion, and politics, and the program draws expertise from an array of disciplines. As students explore the values and lifestyles deriving from communities of African heritage, they gain a fuller understanding of the significance of these global communities’ contributions to the larger world.

Overview of the Concentration

The Africa and the African Diaspora concentration integrates studies of African history and culture, the forced movement of African peoples to the New World, and the consequences of slavery and post-slavery relations in the United States. The concentration in Africa and the African Diaspora provides students with the opportunity to study the ways in which Africans and peoples of African descent understand and interpret their interactions with global cultures and traditions.

The concentration requires a minimum of five courses. The interdisciplinary seminar, AFAD 231 Africa and the Americas: The Diaspora Experience is required of all students electing this concentration, and students are strongly advised to enroll in this course during their first or sophomore year. One independent study may be counted toward the concentration.

Students are also encouraged to include off-campus study, either domestic or overseas, in their programs. See the program director for information on the HECUA program and programs available in Namibia, South Africa, Ghana, and Tanzania, as well as in the British and French Caribbean.

Required Seminar

AFAD 231: Africa and the Americas: The Diaspora Experience

The seminar examines Africans in dispersion/Diaspora as students interrogate the African background of African Americans and links between Africans and African Americans. The course examines the dynamics of precolonial West African societies; the nature of the interaction between Africa and the New World; and the role Africans, African culture, and African institutions played in the political, economic, cultural, and religious life of the New World. Students examine the ties that bind Africans and African Americans and explore questions such as: To what extent was the iconography of Africa used to mobilize Africans in dispersion? How effectively was the consciousness of Africa sustained in the New World? What are the contributions of African Americans to Africa? Also counts toward history, race and ethnic studies, and social studies education majors; and race and ethnic studies concentration.

AFAD 294: Academic Internship

AFAD 298: Independent Study

AFAD 394: Academic Internship

AFAD 396: Directed Undergraduate Research

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.
Prerequisite: Determined by individual instructor.

AFAD 398: Independent Research

Elective Courses

Elective courses must be relevant to the focus of the concentration. For some electives, students may be required to negotiate specific assignments with the instructor and the director of the concentration. Other courses not identified in this list may also be acceptable, depending on the relevance of their content to the concentration.

ART 269 African Art History

ENGL 108 The Hero and the Trickster in Post-Colonial Literature

ENGL 205 American Racial and Multicultural Literatures

ENGL 207 Women of the African Diaspora

ENGL 399 The Major Seminar (when the topic pertains to Africa and the Americas)

FREN 271 The Francophone World

FREN 372 Topics in Francophone Studies

FREN 373 Genre Studies

HIST 151 Slavery in African History

HIST 165 Slavery in the Americas

HIST 181 Civil Rights Revolution

HIST 256 Slavery in West Africa: Ghana (abroad)

HIST 277 African-American History

HIST 288 America in the Civil War and Reconstruction Era

HIST 291 Introduction to African History

HIST 292 Muslim Societies in Sub-Saharan Africa

HIST 370 American Seminar (when the topic pertains to Africa & the Americas)

SOAN 128 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (with a focus on Africa)

SOAN 261 Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective

SOAN 264 Race and Class in American Culture

SWRK 280 Social Realities in South Africa (abroad)


Director, 2020-2021

Abdulai Iddrisu

Associate Professor of History

African history; Islam in Africa

Mary S. Carlsen

Professor of Social Work and Family Studies

social policy; global social work; professional ethics; end of life care; family studies

Michael W. Fitzgerald

Professor of History

African-American history; Civil War and Reconstruction; Southern America

Joan Hepburn

Associate Professor of English

African American literature; drama; race and ethnic literature; western African drama in English

Joseph L. Mbele

Associate Professor of English

folklore; English post-colonial and third world literature

Jonathan T. Naito

Associate Professor of English

20th- and 21st-century British and Irish literature; postcolonial studies; black and Asian British literature; Samuel Beckett

David C. Schalliol

Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology

social stratification; urban sociology; visual sociology; criminology; education