Africana Studies at Barnard is a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the history, politics, cultures, and literatures of Africa and of the African Diaspora in the Americas, Caribbean and Europe.
About the Department
The Department of Africana Studies at Barnard was founded in 1992 as the site for the multidisciplinary study of Africa and the Black Diaspora. Through our course offerings and extra-curricular programming, Africana Studies offers the Barnard community exposure to the experiences of black peoples across the globe and the analytical tools necessary for rigorous and culturally sensitive analyses of these experiences. Faculty who teach in Africana Studies have research and teaching interests in the history of Africa and African descended peoples as well as on the impact of slavery, colonialism, and race and ethnicity in the modern world. Although our curriculum focuses on three major sites of the African Diaspora-Africa, the US and the Caribbean-- our comparative approach encompasses the African influences on and experiences of peoples of African descent throughout the world, including Europe and the Americas. We encourage study abroad: all of this year's seniors traveled or studied in the African continent. Alone among Africana programs, our major requires examination of both the global and the local; Barnard's unique location in New York City means that we include attention to Harlem, the geographic and imaginative meeting place for Black intellectual and political life for most of the twentieth century, in our program.
Our major includes the study of history, politics and cultures, literatures, and experiences of peoples of African origin in Africa and the African Diaspora. Through this course of study, students come to see the centrality of the black Diaspora in the development of the modern world. This multidisciplinary training involves not only a questioning of disciplinary boundaries, it also offers students the intellectual tools necessary to critique and correct the silences and distortions about black life that have been rife in traditional disciplinary structures. Our home in a premier college for women means that Africana Studies at Barnard is attuned to the necessity of intersectional analysis; that is the understanding of how gender, race, class, sexuality, region and other categories interact and transform each other in individual and group experience.