Africana Studies

Hampshire College's concentration in Africana Studies (also known as Black Studies) takes a global approach to the study of African and African descendant life, experience, and culture.

Our Africana Studies courses often incorporate history, politics and the arts as critical arenas for research, writing, and creative expression.

Emerging from a tradition of scholar-activism, this area of study will deepen students' knowledge of Africa and the African Diaspora, prepare students for advanced study, and nurture academic pursuits toward social justice and responsibility to community.

The approaches and frameworks of study currently taught include the Black Radical Tradition, Black Atlantic history and literature, black queer studies, black feminism, state-society relations in Africa, African diasporic biography and memoir, cultural studies, social movements, the carceral state, and prison literature.

The legacy of Black Studies at Hampshire began in the early 1970s with the teaching, scholarship, art, and activism of Gloria I. Joseph, Robert Marquez, Eugene Terry, and Lloyd Hogan and later continued with James Baldwin, Ray Copeland, Vishnu Wood, Yusef Lateef, Roland Wiggins, E. Frances White, Jill Lewis, Andrew Salkey, Frank Holmquist, and Mike Ford.

An interdisciplinary field of study founded at colleges and universities across the U.S. over 40 years ago, at Hampshire it includes: history, literature, sociology, education, arts and aesthetics, archaeology, music, dance and performance, gender and sexuality, economics, politics, film and media, and philosophy.

Sample Student Project Titles

  • Beauty: The Experience and Struggle of Females within the African Diaspora
  • Health Disparity: Diabetes and African Americans in Boston
  • The Trotters of Boston: Fighting Jim Crow from "Freedom's Birthplace"
  • Politics of Difference: African-Americans Encountering Islam
  • What it Feels Like for a Girl: Black and Mixed-Race Women's Identity Construction

Sample First-Year Course

What is Africa to Me?

Africa has always held a special if tenuous place in the formation of African Diasporic self and group identity, as well as shaping various meanings of blackness. To some, Africa is considered the ancestral homeland of humanity. For other African descendants around the world, Africa has historically been viewed as a point of origin and possible place of refuge from the racial and class oppression experienced in the West. W.E.B. Du Bois, for example, relocated to Ghana in 1961 just two years before his death.

At the turn of the 20th century poet Countee Cullen asked "What is Africa to Me?" And recently, President Barack Obama's Kenyan heritage led many to consider him a "son of Africa." Though international definitions of diaspora are common, how does the formation of domestic diasporas impact notions of home for African Americans?

Recognizing the value of a complex diasporic lens that includes race, gender, and class, this course will introduce students to some of the diasporic encounters African descendants have experienced historically and contemporarily from the Harlem Renaissance to Hurricane Katrina.

Sample Courses at Hampshire

  • 20th Century Dance History: American Protest Traditions
  • African American Women in Defense of Themselves: Organizing Against Sexual Violence in African American History
  • Antebellum Social Movements
  • Art/Artifact: African Art and Material Culture
  • Controversies in U.S. Economic and Social History
  • Dancing Motown
  • Interpreting the Movement: Civil Rights and Black Power Movements of Twentieth Century
  • Jazz Modernism
  • Life and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois
  • McKay, Robeson, and Assata: Radical Ruptures
  • 'People Without History: Historical Archaeologies of Atlantic Africa and the African Disapora
  • Organizing in the Whirlwind: African American Social Movements in the Twentieth Century
  • Reading, Writing, and Citizenship: African American Educational Campaigns
  • The Great Depression and the Great Recession: The History of Working Class Struggle in America
  • Warfare in the American Homeland
  • Writing the Civil War

Through the Consortium

  • Black Feminism: Theory/Praxis (MHC)
  • Intro to African-American Studies (MHC)
  • African Diaspora Arts (UMass)
  • History of Black Women in America (SC)
  • Intro to African-American Music (SC)
  • Intro to Black Culture (SC)
  • Race and Radicalism (AC)
  • Studies in African-American Literature (AC) 

Facilities and Resources

The Five College African Studies Certificate Program
Faculty from the Five Colleges continue to be invested in sustaining African-American studies across disciplines. Over thirty courses each semester are taught on African studies through the consortium. The Five College African Studies Certificate Program was created in 1997 to provide students access to a diverse listing of courses. An African Studies Council was designed by faculty members to oversee the certificate program, sponsor lectures and cultural events, and sustain residencies by distinguished scholars.

Africana Studies Library Guide
A curated collection of resources by Hampshire College librarians allows students to access a variety of primary and secondary sources relating to Africana Studies.

The Center for Crossroads in the Study of the Americas (CISA)
Founded in 1997, the Center for Crossroads in the Study of the Americas (CISA) brings together faculty from the Five College consortium who wish to work together to explore relational aspects of identity in the Americas. Instead of adopting a bipolar, “North-South” approach, CISA has developed a “triangular” model for its work, where the three sides are formed by the “Old World” (Africa, Asia, Europe), the polities of the New World, and the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

This conception of the Americas as a crossroads seeks to promote an awareness of the historical and material inter-relationality of citizenship, migration, diaspora, and nationhood. The Center sponsors a number of faculty seminars, curriculum development groups, student symposia, a visiting faculty program, and public events.

Multicultural and International Student Services
The office of multicultural and international student services (MISS) is housed in the Lebrón-Wiggins-Pran Cultural Center.

MISS provides a network of comprehensive services and innovative programs that support and advance the intellectual, personal, cultural, and social development of students of color and international students.

MISS and the Cultural Center work closely with multicultural student groups that make up SOURCE (Students of Under-Represented Cultures and Ethnicities). These groups serve the following populations: indigenous; mixed heritag;, queer people of color and international students; Asian/Asian American; Latino/a American; African/African American; international; James Baldwin Scholars; and women of color and international women.

Additionally, the international student advisor is housed in MISS to assist international students with U.S. immigration and employment regulations, cross-cultural adjustment, and much more.

Professional Organizations of Which Our Faculty are Members:

Association for the Study of American Life and History, National Council for Black Studies, Association of Black Women Historians, Southern Historical Association, Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora, Caribbean Studies Association, African Studies Association, Collegium for African American Research, Society for Historical Archeaology, Society for Black Archaeologists, World Archaeological Congress, Stanford Leiden Heritage Network, American Historical Association, and the Black German Heritage and Research Association.

Journals and Areas where Our Faculty Publish and Display Creative Works:

African Studies Review, African Economic Outlook, The Black Scholar, Journal of Black Studies, Souls, Callaloo, Journal of African American History, Journal of Pan-African Studies, Meridians, Black Women, Gender and Family, African American Review, Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, Drumvoices Revue, Literary Griot: International Journal of Black Expressive Culture, The Review of Black Political Economy, The Western Journal of Black Studies, and Race & Class.