African Studies

The world cannot be understood without Africa. It is the second largest continent, and the human record goes back further there than anywhere else. One result is an incredible diversity of languages, cultures, peoples, and landscapes, including great extremes. There is more diversity among people in Africa than in the rest of the world combined. Africa is the home of the first great empires... and the last.

People of African descent are also spread around the world in numbers greater than from any other continent but Europe. Neither the world nor Africa can be understood without taking this diaspora into account. Africa's music has been an inspiration for musicians across the globe, and its stories are still told around the world. Its art continues to inspire artistic revolutions elsewhere.

In coming to terms with this great diversity, students of Africa will discover the sources and important contributions to the world's artistic, literary, political, and religious ideas. Africans have thought deeply about issues of relevance to all: racism, identity, freedom and slavery, political organization and justice, historical responsibility for injustice, and religious co-existence, among others.

Many of the simple oppositions commonly used to understand the world—black and white, Islam and Christianity, East and West, nation and tribe, tradition and modernity, development and underdevelopment—are highly problematic in Africa, and a study of Africa provides students with a complex and rich understanding of the most important political issues now being directly faced: environmental degradation, sharing of resources, neocolonialism, challenges faced by the nation-state, pandemics, and gender inequality.

The program encourages an awareness of the relationships among the production and application of knowledge and the wider forces of global change, as well as a love of intellectual challenges. Students who intend to complete the African Studies program should include AFSA01H3 in their first-year course selection.

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Faculty

  • Atiqa Hachimi, Associate Professor 
  • Thembela Kepe, Associate Professor (Department of Human Geography)
  • Neil Kortenaar, Associate Professor (Department of English)
  • Stephen Rockel, Associate Professor