Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies
The curriculum of the Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies emphasizes the histories, cultures, cultural linkages, and contemporary sociopolitical and economic realities of Africa and the African diasporas in the context of a globalizing world. Included on our faculty are award-winning teachers and recognized scholars whose work in and out of the classroom covers all major regions of Africa, the United States, and increasingly other parts of the Atlantic African Diaspora, including the Caribbean and Latin America. We approach these areas of study from multiple perspectives and disciplines, and the department’s faculty members are trained in the fields of anthropology, film, history, international development studies, law, linguistics, literature, music, and political science.
We encourage students to talk with the director of undergraduate studies when they declare the major in African, African American, and Diaspora studies. The director of undergraduate studies is also available to students who are interested in the department’s offerings at other times in their academic careers.
Graduate School and Career Opportunities
The skills and perspectives of African, African American, and Diaspora studies provide an excellent background for students considering careers in international development, education, business, government, or diplomacy. Students go on to a variety of managerial, teaching, and research positions. Other careers for which the major is excellent preparation include law, communication, social work, community development, and public administration.
Claude A. Clegg III, Kenneth Janken, LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant, Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja.
Lydia Boyd, Brandi Brimmer, Michael Lambert, David Pier, Charlene Regester, Eunice Sahle.
Maya Berry, Shakirah Hudani, Petal Samuel, Ronald Williams II.
Teaching Associate Professor
Teaching Assistant Professors
Raphael Birya, Samba Camara, Alicia Monroe, Robert Porter.
Fenaba Addo, Anna Agbe-Davies, Renée Alexander Craft, Lisa Calvente, Youssef Carter, Christopher Clark, Shannon Malone Gonzalez, Sudhanshu Handa, Taylor Hargrove, Sherick Hughes, Lauren Jarvis, Joseph Jordan, Priscilla Layne, Lisa Lindsay, Chaitra Powell, Danielle Purifoy, Antonia Randolph, Victoria Rovine, Rebecka Rutledge Fisher, Tanya Shields, William Sturkey, J. Michael Terry.
AAAD–African, African American, and Diaspora Studies
The department has adopted the following numbering system for all AAAD courses numbered above 99:
- Courses ending in 00 to 29: African studies
- Courses ending in 30 to 59: African American studies
- Courses ending in 60 to 84: African Diaspora outside the United States
- Courses ending in 85 to 99: Courses that cross geography; dedicated courses whose numbers are reserved by the University Registrar, such as independent studies and internships.
Blackness and whiteness as racial categories have existed in the United States from the earliest colonial times, but their meanings have shifted and continue to shift. Over the semester we will attempt to define and redefine blackness in the United States.
This course is designed to investigate how race has been represented in cinema historically with a emphasis on representations of race when blackness is masqueraded.
This seminar focuses on artists from around the world who have taken an experimental approach to music-making and performance, inspired by black politics, culture, and history. Considers the special challenges blacks have faced in the field of "modernism." Students may opt to do creative artistic projects in lieu of a final research paper.
This discussion-oriented seminar will use the works of African authors and filmmakers to explore how this dimension of the African experience has in part shaped the everyday lives of the peoples of the African continent.
This seminar explores the role of youth in processes of social change on the African continent historically and in the contemporary era. It begins with an exploration of youth's experiences and involvement in liberation struggles against colonial rule. With a focus on the post-1980s period, it examines youth mobilization for democratization, human rights, and horizontal accountability by state actors, and the role of African Union in promoting youth citizenship.
This first-year seminar examines the ways that healthcare access and health itself are shaped by social, racial, and economic inequalities in our society and others. The geographic focus of this course is Africa and the United States. Drawing on research in medical anthropology, sociology, public health, and history we will gain an understanding of the political, economic, and social factors that create health inequalities.
Special Topics Course: content will vary each semester.
Introduction to the study of the African continent, its peoples, history, and contemporary problems of development in a globalized world, including a survey of the African past, society and culture, and contemporary political, economic, and social issues.
This course explores the precolonial, colonial, and the contemporary media in Africa. It focuses on the different types of media, its impact on socioeconomic and political development, and the growth and development of internet in the region. It introduces students to the inventors, copyright regulations, African governments' media regulation statutes, and careers in the media industry in the continent.
The course tracks the contours of history, life, societies, and cultures of the Atlantic African diaspora from their origins through Emancipation in the United States, the Caribbean, and South America.
A survey of the historical development of the black church in America, beginning during the antebellum period and continuing to the present day.
Introduction to the study of gender and sexuality in African societies. Theoretical questions relating to the cross-cultural study of gender will be a primary focus. Topics include historical perspectives on the study of kinship and family in Africa and the impact of colonialism and other forms of social change.
An introduction to African literature, with an emphasis on works by writers from the late colonial period to the present, and including a survey of different genres.
This course studies African film and performance as two distinct, but interconnected genres of artistic expression used for negotiating a postcolonial African agency.
Topics such as the impact of colonialism and missionization on African societies, the changing practice of Islam in Africa, and the intersection of religious and political unrest in postcolonial societies are addressed.
Introduction to the plastic arts of sub-Saharan Africa through study of their relationship to the human values, institutions, and modes of aesthetic expression of select traditional and modern African societies.
This course provides a critical examination of the historical and theoretical bases for understanding the challenges and opportunities facing African states and societies in the current global system, which is dominated by neoliberal globalization.
This course examines the ways by which anthropologists have used ethnographic texts to describe and frame African societies. Among the topics explored through a close textual reading of both classical and contemporary ethnographic texts are systems of thought, politics, economics, social organization and the politics of representation.
This course centers on the role of media in democratic governance in Africa. In particular, the course introduces to students political and normative theoretical bases for understanding the responsibility of the press in various forms of democracy, freedom of expression, and news influence on politics. Students will also explore and criticize the electoral processes and dynamics in electoral campaigns. The legal pressure on media during the elections and other times when African governments face scrutiny
Special emphasis on postemancipation developments.
An examination of the individual and collective experiences of black women in America from slavery to the present and the evolution of feminist consciousness.
An introduction to African American art and artists and their social contexts from early slavery.
This course is an introductory and chronological study of the African American literary canon. It examines various African American literary genres, including slave narratives, poetry, and the novel.
Since the 1920s environmental, health, industrial and other disasters have shaped southern African American culture, communities, and politics. The mass dislocation and despair brought by disasters and the manners in which African Americans resisted and struggled to overcome them have significantly changed the country's geographic, cultural, and political landscape. This course examines such epic disasters as floods, hurricanes, disease, and work-related tragedies and their long-term consequences and meanings.
A survey of African American political development from emancipation to the present. The course examines the dynamics of minority group politics with African Americans as the primary unit of analysis. Students consider African American politics in domestic and global contexts and issues of local, regional, national, and international relevance.
This course will analyze the role of the African American in motion pictures, explore the development of stereotypical portrayals, and investigate the efforts of African American actors and actresses to overcome these portrayals.
African Americans in the West is a survey course that examines the origins, migration, and development of African descended peoples in the United States west of the Mississippi River.
This course is an overview of the black experience in North Carolina with special emphasis on Chapel Hill and Wilmington.
This course traces the evolution of black nationalism, both as an idea and a movement, from the era of the American Revolution to its current Afrocentric expressions.
An examination of the struggle by black Americans for social justice since World War II and of the systemic responses.
This course examines the influence of African American expressive culture, particularly popular music, on American mainstream culture.
The majority of people of African descent in this hemisphere live in Latin America. This course will explore various aspects of the black experience in Latin America.
Course interrogates concepts such as religion, folklore, nation, blackness, gender, history, and dance. Concepts illustrated through readings, movement practice (dance classes), and spectatorship.
This course will look at the experiences of black Caribbean immigrants in the United States and the activities in which they participate, as well as their shifting senses of their identities.
Scholars of Afropessimism argue that we are not living in the age of post-slavery, but in the "afterlife of slavery" and that Blacks exist outside of the world, because the social world is held together by anti-Blackness. This argumentation has had important effects within Black German and Black European Studies. This course seeks to explore these philosophical claims, by comparing American films with European films that deal with anti-Black racism.
An interdisciplinary survey of African-descendant communities and the development and expression of African/black identities in the context of competing definitions of diaspora.
Explores the experiences of Africans in European colonies in locations such as colonial Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean, and mainland North America. Lecture and discussion format. The major themes of inquiry include labor, law, gender, culture, and resistance, exploring differing experiences based on gender, location, and religion.
Examines historical and contemporary processes shaping health and well-being in Africa Diaspora communities. Emphasis will be placed on health and health equity within African-descendant communities in the United States, Haiti, and Brazil.
Through an interdisciplinary analysis of key aspects of black popular cultures in their global diversity, this course tackles fundamental questions about the meanings of black identity, identification, and belonging.
Subject matter will vary by instructor. Course description available from department office.
Students work internships and develop, in conjunction with a faculty supervisor, an academic project relating to their internship experience. Permission of the director of undergraduate studies required.
This course looks at blacks in the British world to 1833, with particular attention on the 13 colonies and the lands that would eventually form the Dominion of Canada.
This course explores contemporary economic, political, and social factors influencing the health and welfare of African peoples. Emphasis is placed on understanding the cultural perspectives that shape non-Western experiences of health, disease, and notions of spiritual and physical well-being. Readings draw from the fields of anthropology, history, and public health.
The course examines the contemporary relationship between China and Africa. This includes China and Africa's history; China's economic, trade, strategic, and foreign policy towards Africa; as well as the relationship between China and the Africans who live and work there.
The first half of this course introduces students to the broad themes of West African history. The second half builds on this historical background by exploring case studies on a range of issues. Among the topics addressed in the case studies are Islam, gender, health, political violence, and globalization.
By examining the social history and meaning of various cultural practices, literature, art, and popular music among Muslim Africans, this course introduces students to how Islam has influenced contemporary African identity and to the practices that came to be associated with Africa as a land of Islam.
Examines the 21st-century global competition for African resources and compares it to the 19th-century "scramble for Africa." Major actors include the European Union, the United States, and China.
This course introduces students to the phenomenon of religious-based terrorism in Africa today, its causes, dynamics, and what the states affected, regional organizations, and the international community are doing to eradicate it.
This course surveys contemporary forms of political conflict and protest in Africa. The nature, causes, and consequences of these conflicts will be examined.
This course is a study of policy making in African states with respect to issues of sustainable development.
This course considers a variety of African artists and art scenes in their political, economic, and cultural contexts. Likely topics include artists under Apartheid, the global trade in traditional wood carvings, and Africa's place in the global contemporary art circuit.
Examines the production, circulation, and consumption of masks in both African and non-African contexts. Expands, nuances, and sometimes undoes our notions of mask, masquerade, and masking.
An introduction to African music new and old, focusing on the continent's distinctive techniques and concepts, and on its musical interactions with the rest of the world. The politics of music making in various historical settings will be explored. Prior musical experience is helpful, but not required.
This course examines Islamic influences on the cultures and societies of East Africa. Topics include introduction of Islam in the region, Swahili city states, hybrid Islamic cultures, Islam in the constitution, Wahhabi and Salafist puritanical Islam, Islam and politics, and secessionist movements and terrorism in East Africa Muslim societies.
Focus on the historical development of African American art from the Harlem Renaissance of early 20th century through the Black Arts Movement and Feminist Art Movement 1960s and early 1970s.
The course provides an examination of the ways that the past plays out in the present. Specifically this course examines memorials, monuments, and museums that remember and reinvent slavery and race in the United States and throughout the rest of the Diaspora.
Exploration of the relationship between race and public policy in the U.S. Primary focus on African Americans, but other racial groups also studied. Key areas include reproductive justice, health care, employment, labor, welfare, education, housing, environmental justice, policing, criminalization, foreign policy, immigration, and war.
Taking an issue of current or historic importance to African American communities, students conduct archival research and collect and/or analyze oral histories and work to create a documentary play that will be publicly performed.
This course treats the structural properties of African American English. Students will learn to use sentence data to test hypotheses about language structure by investigating the phonology, syntax and semantics of African American English.
Examines the socio-political dimensions of African diaspora art and culture with a focus on African Americans in the 20th century.
This course explores the intersection of law and societal developments drawing from the disciplines of history, political science, anthropology, feminist legal studies, and constitutional law. The themes of the course will vary depending on the training, research interests, and geographical concentration of the faculty teaching the course.
This course investigates the history and legacy, as well as contemporary trends and ideas of African American drama through the study of its literary texts, performance styles, and cultural history. We will explore how the African American's dramatists voice is shaping cultural landscapes and ongoing conversations.
An exploration of outstanding themes of the Harlem Renaissance's poetry, fiction, painting and visual art, and political journalism. The course includes excursions to museums and libraries. Previously offered as AAAD 450.
The course will explore the gap between public policy and the lived experiences of and reactions from constituents. Students will explore this gap by studying the development of twentieth-century public policy, examining the differing outcomes across groups, and the contemporary impact on housing, voting, education, and policing.
Examines the emergence and impact of hip-hop music and culture and its broad influence in mainstream culture, as a global phenomenon and as a vehicle embodying formative ideas of its constituent communities.
Will examine the way that the process of emancipation unfolded in Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba, with major emphasis on emancipation in the United States.
Examines participatory development theory and practice in Africa and the United States in the context of other intervention strategies and with special attention to culture and gender.
This course explores the history and contemporary politics of HIV/AIDS in African communities and across the Diaspora. The differing trajectories of the epidemic on the continent, in the West, and in the Caribbean and Latin America will be explored.
This class places transnational Black feminist thought in conversation with Black speculative fiction from across the diaspora, particularly emphasizing sci-fi and fantasy narratives set in dystopic or post-apocalyptic worlds. By reading these two traditions of writing together, we study how both genres theorize the potential sources of, responses to, and preventative measures against forms of political, social, and environmental catastrophe.
This course will examine literature, film, art, and music from the Caribbean that illustrates and critiques the past and present impacts of colonial rule in the region. What role has anticolonial Caribbean literature and art played in shaping the region's present and future, and in shaping global anticolonial politics?
A critical introduction to the study of development and sustainability as interlinked approaches to understanding contemporary challenges in Africa and the African diaspora. Development is a concept with multiple meanings and contextual incarnations. The course emphasizes thinking of development as a field of expertise and intervention and as a modality of change, that goes beyond economistic understandings of development as simply economic growth.
Examines approaches to studying the politicization and foreclosure of urban space. Focus in particular on race and socioeconomic class as key lenses through which to interpret and understand urban spatial struggles. Examines relations of inequality in the global North and the global South and analyzes struggles to remain in the city that are central to the politics of place.
Permission of the instructor for nonmajors. Subject matter will vary with each instructor. Each course will concern itself with a study in depth of some problem in African, African American, or diaspora studies.
Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. Independent study projects defined by student and faculty advisor. Majors only.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
This upper level seminar examines contemporary African politics with a focus on political trends in the post-1990s period.
This course provides an understanding of how poverty is defined, the consequences of poverty, and policies to reduce poverty. It explores the determinants of human development outcomes from an interdisciplinary perspective (with a heavy economics focus).
This course explores forms of filmic and photographic representation of and by Africans. An introduction to key concepts in social theory and their application to the field of media studies and ethnography is a primary focus.
This course explores major conceptual debates in the field of human rights. Further, it examines human rights practices and struggles in selected countries in Africa.
An exploration of musical articulations of African diasporic identity focusing on aesthetics, social fields of production, and the historical development of the diaspora concept around music.
Examines modern and contemporary African art (1940s to the present) for Africans on the continent and abroad. Examines tradition, cultural heritage, colonialism, postcolonialism, local versus global, nationalism, gender, identity, diaspora.
This upper-level seminar focuses on debates in international development studies exploring theories and policies of development, particularly those pertaining to gender, sexuality, masculinities, and women's political agency in contemporary Africa.
This course provides an overview of Senegalese culture through movies, literary works, and scholarly books and articles. The course examines the geography, population, ethnic composition, thoughts and religious beliefs, arts and music, polygamy, status of women, and the impact of the tariqas or Sufi orders on people's daily lives.
This course will equip students to analyze critically cutting-edge issues concerning Africa today through readings, lectures, and research. For junior/senior majors and students with an interest in Africa.
This course is an introduction to the languages of Africa. No linguistics background is required. Topics include classification, characteristic linguistic features of African languages, and their role in their respective societies.
An examination of major intellectual trends in African American life from the 19th to the early 21st century.
This course will provide students the opportunity to compare and contrast how race, especially Blackness, and ethnicity are constructed across the globe as well as how race, politics, and policy interact in various countries. We will examine the phenomena of race and ethnicity in the political development of several countries including the U.S., South Africa, France, Australia, Brazil, and several others.
This course interrogates the diverse representations that black women personified on screen, investigates intersections between their off-screen lives and on-screen images, and explores what and how they contributed to the cinema industry. This course is a theoretical, critical, and historical examination of the black woman's cinematic experience.
Examines the divide between literacy- and orality-based modes of self-expression and cultural production, and the effects of this fault line on the African American struggle for inclusion and self-definition in the United States.
Examines race, culture, and politics in Brazil from historical and contemporary perspectives. Focuses on dynamics of race, gender, class, and nation in shaping Brazilian social relations.
The course is designed to give students a simulated experience of ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative research. Students are led through a learning experience where they will examine black activism in Cuba from historical and contemporary perspectives.
This course examines constructions of race and gender in a comparative framework from the fifteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. Students will explore how people across the Atlantic understood visual differences and human diversity in emerging concepts of race. Students will also focus on how inhabitants of Africa, Europe, North America, and South America constructed the category of "woman" and "man" and the constraints and liberties these constructions imposed.
Explores performance traditions in African American music, tracing development from African song through reels, blues, gospel, and contemporary vernacular expression. Focuses on continuity, creativity, and change within African American aesthetics. Previously offered as FOLK 610/AAAD 432.
This course uses social science approaches to explore the development of black feminist thought and activism in diverse cultural and national contexts. Students will gain knowledge of black feminist thought writing and activism in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.
Examines the ways African art appears in United States popular culture (advertisements, magazines, toys, films, art) to generate meanings about Africa. Addresses intersecting issues of nationalism, multiculturalism, imperialism, nostalgia, and race. Restricted to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
In this seminar students will examine primary documents of engaged scholarship written by Africans and people of African descent in the Americas, Europe, and elsewhere in the African Diaspora.
This course examines how questions of democracy and human rights have been conceptualized in African Diaspora communities in the Americas and Europe.
This course is designed to give students a broad-ranging, interpretative perspective on-and analytical tools for studying-the migration and settlement of African peoples in various parts of the world, largely over the past several centuries. Based on selected secondary readings, students will study and compare the ways in which people of African descent have created political, cultural, and territorial communities in Africa and beyond the continent, especially in the slave and post-emancipation societies of the Americas.
Examines the origins of race in America, the relationship of racial oppression to class struggle at key points in American history, the proliferation of versions of the concept of privilege, and approaches to eliminating class and racial privilege.
This course introduces concepts and themes on the development of urbanism in the "Global South". Students engage with current debates over urbanism in the Global South, including looking at urban inequalities in contemporary cities. Through the course, students will be able to compare and critically analyze formations of contemporary urbanism in selected cities in the Global South from a comparative perspective.
Permission of the department. Beginning of mentored research on an honors thesis. Required of all candidates for graduation with honors in African, African American, and Diaspora studies.
Permission of the department. Completion of an honors thesis under the direction of a member of the faculty. Required of all candidates for graduation with honors in African, African American, and Diaspora studies.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
The course introduces the essential elements of the Chichewa language. Emphasis is on speaking and writing grammatically acceptable Chichewa and on aspects of central African culture.
Emphasis is on speaking and writing grammatically acceptable Chichewa to a proficiency level that will enable the student to live among the Chichewa-speaking people of central southern Africa.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
Introduces the essential elements of Lingala structure and vocabulary and aspects of African cultures. Aural comprehension, reading, speaking, and writing are stressed.
Continues the introduction of the essential elements of Lingala structure and vocabulary and aspects of African cultures. Aural comprehension, reading, speaking, and writing are stressed.
This courses increases language learning ability, communicative proficiency, and proficiency in the cultures of the Lingala-speaking people.
This course reinforces language learning ability, communicative proficiency in the culture of the Lingala-speaking people through gradual exposure to more challenging tasks, with emphasis on poetry and prose reading, and creative writing.
SWAH 112 covers two elementary courses: SWAH 401 - Elementary Kiswahili I and SWAH 402 - Elementary Kiswahili II. Whereas the course has a special place for structural aspects of the language, emphasis is particularly placed on the four language skills namely, speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Students cover a wide range of social, economic and political issues in East Africa.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
This course is the first part of Elementary Swahili. Students will be introduced to the basic elements of Standard Swahili language and culture. At the end of this course, students are expected to reach Novice High according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines. In addition to Swahili language, students are exposed to topics on socioeconomic issues in East Africa, for example, greetings and social norms, nutrition and housing.
This course is a continuation of Elementary Swahili I. It introduces more advanced grammar, emphasizes more fluency in speaking, reading, and writing in standard Swahili. The course develops students understanding of the Swahili culture and the East African people who use Swahili as the language of wider communication. Students develop an understanding and appreciation of languages and cultures other than their own.
This course is the first part of Intermediate Swahili. Students taking this course are assumed to have taken Swahili Elementary I & II where basic elements of Standard Swahili language and culture are introduced. The course is designed to further help students improve their fluency with emphasis on reading, writing, speaking and listening. Further, students make some comparisons between their cultures and the culture of Swahili speaking people and the East African people in general.
SWAH 404 is designed to further help students improve their fluency with particular emphasis on reading, writing, speaking, and listening. At this level students discuss varied issues in East Africa including state and local government political and economic activities, kinship ties, transportation, and Swahili oral and written literature. Students are encouraged to use the knowledge acquired in their respective areas of specializations and personal experiences to make connections and comparisons.
Advanced Swahili aims at developing fluency and proficiency in Swahili language and students' understanding of the social, economic, and political situation and activities of the East African people. Further, the course is designed to develop the students' ability to describe events, express opinions, and compare what they learn in class with personal experience and knowledge in their respective fields of specialization using structured arguments.
This course reinforces and expands the grammatical, cultural, and communicative competence achieved in SWAH 405.
SWAH 408 explores contemporary health issues and other current affairs in Africa. The course is designed to help students understand the basic health issues in Africa as well as develop their language skills in reading, listening, comprehension and writing of Swahili language. Further, students will examine how language and culture impact beliefs and behaviors, and how together, these impact health interventions.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
WOLO 401 (Elementary Wolof I) is appropriate for beginners with no background in the language.
WOL 403 is appropriate for learners who have completed (or successfully placed out of) Elementary Wolof 2.
WOL 404 is appropriate for learners who have completed Intermediate Wolof 1.
This course is intended for learners who have acquired Wolof proficiency in WOLO 403 and 404. It provides students with the communication and linguistic skills needed to communicate fluently at the near-native level.
This course is intended for learners who have acquired Wolof proficiency in WOLO 405. It provides students with the advanced communication and linguistic skills needed to communicate fluently at the native level.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
This course is an introduction to Yoruba and is intended for students with no prior knowledge of the language and culture of Yorubaland. The course emphasizes spoken and written Yoruba, as used in present day West Africa. At the end of this course, students are expected to reach Novice High according to the American Council Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency guidelines.
It introduces more advanced grammar and emphasizes more fluency in speaking, reading, and writing in standard Yoruba. The course develops students understanding of the Yoruba culture and the West African people who use Yoruba as the language of wider communication. To learn the Yoruba language and culture, students cover a wide range of socioeconomic and political topics including greetings, nutrition, health, housing, business and political leadership.
Intermediate Yoruba III is a continuation of Elementary Yoruba. It is the first of two intermediate level courses of the language. Students taking this course are assumed to have taken Yoruba Elementary I & II where basic elements of Yoruba language and culture are introduced. Emphasis is placed on reinforcing the basic structures learned in Elementary Yoruba I and II through oral and aural activities and increasing the level of active vocabulary.