The Department of African American Studies is an intellectual community committed to producing, refining and advancing knowledge of Black people in the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Africa. A key component of our mission is to interrogate the meanings and dimensions of slavery and colonialism, and their continuing political, social and cultural implications.

We fully embrace the notion that a public institution can lead in shaping and defining disciplines, not just teaching them. We contribute to this mission by investing in a strong faculty and talented and ambitious graduate students from a variety of backgrounds. Our faculty is drawn from disciplines as diverse as anthropology, cultural studies, linguistics, literature, history, sociology, performance, and education. But we are not simply a collection of experts from traditional disciplines; we are united by a relentless commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge through excellence in scholarship and pedagogy that are at once interdisciplinary and innovative.

The undergraduate degree program in African American Studies exposes students to the social, political, and cultural history of African-descended people in the modern world. While its primary focus is on the United States, the program’s conceptual framework places African Americans within a broader global, diasporic dialogue about the evolving function of race in history as well as in the contemporary moment. With its interdisciplinary strengths in history, culture, and social and political institutions, the major provides students with skills in research, criticism, and writing that our graduates have taken to a variety of professional paths, including teaching, government and policy work, employment in mass media, professional schools (law, medicine, business), and graduate study in multiple fields.

The PhD program in African Diaspora Studies is the first such program of its kind, training students to theorize the African Diaspora and racialized blackness across history, social institutions, culture and geographical location. We recruit the most promising and disciplinary-diverse young scholars and specifically educate them to direct the future research trajectory of African Diaspora Studies as a field. Emphasizing a rigorous interdisciplinarity, our program is particularly strong in African American and sub-Saharan African history; cultural studies (with emphases in literature, performance, visual culture, and creative practice); women’s, gender & sexuality studies; education; sociology; and African languages. Since the inception of the Program in 1997, we have had an excellent placement rate. Our graduates hold postdoctoral and tenure-track positions at both large research universities and small liberal arts colleges in the US and abroad.