Africana Studies is a field of study that emerged from the freedom movements of the 1960s that critically engages the vast experiences of people of Africa and the African Diaspora. Africana Studies seeks to expand our knowledge of black experience broadly, while intervening in discourses that omit the experiences of blacks throughout the diaspora, or seek to ignore, suppress, and de-center the long history of racism and oppression of black peoples. Africana Studies employs multi and interdisciplinary approaches, methods, and theories to engage the diverse experiences of African-descended peoples, including, but not limited to national, transnational, and diasporic perspectives.
At Williams College, Africana Studies is a thriving concentration that takes up the broader concerns of Africana Studies as a field, merges them with our dynamic faculty expertise and interests, and combines them with the educational needs of our diverse student population. We seek to ground students in the multiple knowledges that people of African descent embrace, and encourage students to acquire skills in multi and interdisciplinary research, writing, and analysis. Although intellectual rigor is a significant programmatic focus, we also recognize the importance of grounding intellectual engagement with activism and life experience.
The Program offers a wide variety of courses in the humanities, arts, and social sciences to fulfill these objectives. Africana core and affiliate faculty offer courses in American Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, History, English, Political Science, Religion, Music, Theater, Dance, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Environmental Studies and the Visual and Performing Arts. Faculty research interests include the political theory of freedom in the Diaspora, race and Latin America, Black sociology and metaphysics, representations of religion and race in film and popular culture, the Black Arts Movement and Black Poetry, the Civil Rights Movement, slavery, transport culture in Kenya, drought relief and AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, artists and intellectuals in Black Europe, contemporary incarceration and policing, comparative literature, gender and women’s studies, representations of black athletes, African and African diasporic music and dance, contemporary theater, and performance studies.
Africana Studies is augmented by endowed special lectures and visiting professorships including the annual Allison Davis Lecture, the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellowships, the Sterling Brown Visiting Professorship, and active theater, dance, and music ensembles such as Stalwart Originality, Kusika, and the Zambezi Marimba Band. For more information on the Program, see here.