African Studies

African Studies

In United States education, Africana studies, or Africology is the study of the histories, politics and cultures of peoples of African origin both in Africa and in the African diaspora.

It is to be distinguished from African studies, as its focus combines Africa and the African diaspora (Afro-Latin American, African American studies, Black studies) into a concept of an "African experience" with an Afrocentric perspective.

"Africana studies" departments at many major universities grew out of the "Black studies" programs and departments formed in the late 1960s in the context of the US civil rights movement, as black studies programs were reformed and renamed "Africana studies" with an aim to encompass the continent of Africa and all of the African diaspora in a more abstract and traditionally academic way.

Africana studies programs also struggled to better align themselves with other college and university departments finding continuity and compromise between the radicalism of past decades and the multicultural scholarship found in many fields today.[dubious – discuss] Thus, it can be described[by whom?] as a "scholarship of compromise and acquiescence", contrasting with the historical Black studies which were motivated by the struggle for civil rights.


According to Robert Harris Jr, there have been four stages in the development of Africana studies: from the 1890s until the Second World War numerous organizations developed to analyze the culture and history of African peoples (African studies). In the second stage the focus turned to black Americans (Afro-American studies). In the third stage a bevy of newly conceived academic programs were established as Black studies.

Unlike the other stages, Black studies grew out of mass rebellions of black college students and faculty in search of a scholarship of change. The fourth stage, the new name "Africana studies" involved a theoretical elaboration of the discipline of black studies according to African cultural reclamation and disparate tenets in the historical and cultural issues of Africanity within a professorial interpretation of the interactions between these fields and college administrations.

Thus Africana studies reflected the mellowing and institutionalization of the black studies movement in the course of its integration into the mainstream academic curriculum. Black studies and Africana studies differ primarily in that Africana studies focuses on Africanity and the historical and cultural issues of Africa and its descendants while Black studies was designed to deal with the uplift and development of the black (African-American)community in relationship to education and its "relevance" to the black community. The adaptation of the term "Africana studies" appears to have derived from the encyclopedia work of W.E.B. Du Bois and Carter G. Woodson. James Turner, who was recruited from graduate school at Northwestern on the heels of the student rebellions of 1969, first used the term to describe a global approach to Black studies and name the "Africana Studies and Research Center" at Cornell, where he acted as the founding director.

Studia Africana, subtitled "An International Journal of Africana Studies" was published by the Department for African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati in a single issue in 1977 (an unrelated journal called Studia Africana is published by the Centro de Estudios Africanos, Barcelona, since 1990). The International Journal of Africana Studies (ISSN 1056-8689) has been appearing since 1992, published by the National Council for Black Studies.


  • The Journal of African Civilizations (since 1979)
  • International Journal of Africana Studies - Designed to interrogate and analyze the lived experiences of Africana people.
  • Africana - Journal of Ideas on Africa and the Diaspora
  • Electronic Journal of Africana Bibliography - Coverage includes any aspect of Africa, its peoples, their homes, cities, towns, districts, states, countries, regions, including social, economic sustainable development, creative literature, the arts, and the Diaspora.
  • Africana Online: Journal of the Africana Center for Cultural Literacy and Research
  • The Journal of Pan African Studies (since 1987)
  • Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art - Nka focuses on publishing critical work that examines the newly developing field of contemporary African and African Diaspora art within the modernist and postmodernist experience and therefore contributes to the intellectual dialogue on world art and the discourse on internationalism and multiculturalism in the arts.
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