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Africana Studies

The concentration in Africana Studies critically examines the artistic, historical, literary, and theoretical expressions of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora.  Central to the work of students and faculty in the concentration is the close collaboration of artists, scholars, and writers in examining relationships between academic and artistic knowledge about the world and human experience.  Concentrators work closely with faculty members in developing new knowledge about the world and human existence through the critical and comprehensive study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora.  Concentrators are encouraged to study abroad in Africa, the Caribbean, and/or Latin America and to acquire language competency in a language other than English spoken in Africa and the diaspora.

Africana Studies presents a different conceptual paradigm  that connects  the global black experience.  Africana  Studies engages issues about historical and contemporary responses to local and global crises.  It engages with how people of color create their own knowledge culturally and politically.  It is  oftentimes a critique of how forms of knowledge are produced. Concentrators acquire a host of interdisciplinary skills that allow them to ask questions about the world around them, and forms of  knowledge production while  developing critical analytical skills.  Our concentrators deploy these skills in  other classes, enriching  their own general intellectual development. 

In order to develop requisite competency in the discipline of Africana Studies, concentrators must complete nine (9) semester-long courses offered by or cross-listed with the Department. Seven (7) courses must have an AFRI prefix or be offered by Africana Studies core faculty.  Two (2) courses can be cross-listed.  In some cases, Concentrators may petition the Department to accept other appropriate courses. Of these 9 courses, the following Africana Studies courses are required:

  • AFRI 0090 An Introduction to Africana Studies
  • AFRI 1330  Africana Studies Junior Seminar
  • AFRI 1360 Africana Studies: Knowledge, Texts and Methodology–Senior Capstone Seminar (Spring ONLY)

Students studying abroad during the second semester of their junior year will be required to take the seminar during their senior year. If there is a documented conflict with another concentration's senior seminar, students should consult with the DUS.

The Department strongly encourages foreign study in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. 

The Department also encourages the acquisition of language competencies, in addition to English, which are spoken in Africa and the diaspora. Since no continental African language is permanently offered at Brown (to date), concentrators who study abroad and acquire certified competency in any African language are welcome to petition the department for competency credit.

For more information about the concentration, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Honors in Africana Studies

Africana Studies’ concentrators with outstanding academic records (demonstration of excellent research and writing skills from course selections to grades) may be admitted to the department’s Honors Program.

Students interested in pursuing honors should identify a faculty sponsor in Africana Studies (chosen from Core Faculty or affiliated faculty after Chair agreement) in their 6th semester and begin working on their thesis project during the summer before their senior year. By the end of the sixth semester, while working in consultation with a faculty advisor, the student must submit a rough draft of the project proposal. Please visit the department website for proposal guidelines. This preliminary plan should include a timeline for completion of the thesis and is not to exceed one (1) typewritten page. This plan should also include a bibliography that students have developed with their thesis advisor to guide their summer reading.

By the end of the summer, the Honor’s candidate should be familiar with the secondary works in the field. (Secondary readings should be extensive and be incorporated into the final proposal, due Monday, September 26, 2022.) The student should also identify a second reader at this point.  The final work plan/proposal, not to exceed three (3) typewritten pages, should incorporate the summer research findings and updates to the completion deadline.  The final proposal must be approved and signed by a committee, comprised of the faculty advisor who is to direct the Honor's thesis, the second reader, and the concentration advisor. By the end of week three of the first senior semester, the thesis advisor should inform the Director of Undergraduate Studies by email that the proposal has been approved.

The Honor's candidate should complete at least one chapter of distinguished quality while enrolled in an independent study with their faculty advisor during the first semester of the senior year.  Students must enroll in at least one, preferably two, semesters of independent study to work on their thesis.

For students completing graduation requirements by the end of Semester I (Fall), a first complete draft of the thesis should be completed by the last Friday in October. Final drafts must be submitted by the last Friday in November. For students completing graduation requirements by Semester II (Spring), a first complete draft of the thesis should be submitted by the last Friday in February. The final draft of the thesis should be submitted by the last Friday in March. Students must submit bound copies of the final thesis to the department and to each of their readers, along with an electronic copy of the completed thesis to the Academic Department Manager. All students are expected to formally present their thesis projects in the Department of Africana Studies in early April at a time to be determined. After this presentation, a department committee will make recommendations for honors to the Director of Undergraduate Studies and students will receive notification of the recommendation.