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Undergraduate Fields of Specialization: Africa and the African Diaspora

Africa and the African Diasopora

The field of specialization in Africa and the African Diaspora provides an important lens for looking at the history of the world through the eyes of those systematically denied their place and recognition in shaping it. Students will explore the histories of Africans on the continent and of African-descended people across the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and beyond. Africa is the cradle of humanity, and the first source of alphabetic literacy and gold. Africa is also the home of ancient kingdoms, medieval empires, vast inter-regional and global trade networks, and a huge source of social and cultural innovation. Captives and free emigrants from the African diaspora have built and changed the world, shaping the history of the Atlantic World in particular. A dynamic set of courses in African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American history will introduce students to these regionally diverse, often interconnected histories, showcasing the varied urban and political pasts, artistic and oral traditions, and ecological and health histories of Africa and its diaspora, all of which remain significant today. In addition, students will trace the development and implications of trans-Atlantic slavery and the slave trades; race, racism, colonialism, segregation, and apartheid; resistance and revolution; decolonization and postcolonial nation-building; and contemporary wars and genocide alongside the thematic study of religion, ethnicity, family, gender, class, and sexuality. Across the board, this specialization emphasizes the creative and intellectual contributions of African-descended communities to the meanings of freedom, liberation, justice, and humanity, enabling students to radically transform their understanding of the world and develop an essential perspective valuable to any career path.