Africana at Williams

Founded in 1969 as Afro-American Studies in the aftermath of student action and protest, the Africana Studies Department has evolved through a variety of approaches, tracing its roots back to the long history of African American social protest and to the uniquely interdisciplinary mode of studying the Black experience that began as early as the appearance of Du Bois’ founding work, The Souls of Black Folk, in 1903.

Today Africana Studies is a thriving academic major 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 wisdoms 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.

Our core faculty teach a very popular Africana 200 (Introduction to Africana Studies),which introduces students to the content and contours of Africana Studies as a field, and includes guest speakers, field trips, lectures, and interdisciplinary work in the performing arts. Besides offering a variety of Senior Seminars (e.g. Africana Studies and the Disciplines, Black Radicalism, 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, 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.

The department is augmented by special endowed 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.

Africana Studies welcomes your comments and contributions to our department. Please send along comments, news items that you think we should post, and other suggestions to [email protected].