About the Program in Africana

Africana adopts progressive interdisciplinary approaches to the understanding of people of African descent in the Atlantic world: Africa, the Americas— with special attention to the United States—and Europe. Our courses examine conceptualizations of “race” and its use as a tool of critical analysis. Attention to the intersection of “race” with other social and political identities informs all aspects of the intellectual project of Africana at Bates.

Goals and Objectives of Africana at Bates:

  • To enrich knowledge of histories and experiences of peoples of the African diaspora.
  • To demonstrate the importance of “race” as a tool of critical analysis for explaining, among other things, the allocation of economic resources, the formation of personal and group identities, the dynamics of unequal power, the changing nature of political behavior, and the creation of aesthetic expressions.
  • To engage students in the critical theorization of the construction of race, with special focus on the ways that this category of difference has changed over time and place.
  • To deepen students’ understanding of secular practices, intellectual traditions, religions, and social institutions of African-descended peoples in the US and the diaspora.
  • To consider multifarious ways that race intersects with class, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and other modes of social differentiation.
  • To facilitate a vibrant conversation between students and faculty across the campus and beyond in a variety of different fields: literature, music, American cultural studies, art and visual culture, Gender and Sexuality Studies, history,sociology, politics, anthropology, education, rhetoric, and science.
  • To communicate effectively in writing and speech.
  • To foster engagement in the larger community—local, national, and international.
  • To prepare students for fulfilling careers in a variety of fields, including research and teaching; policy, advocacy and community work; law; cultural organization and curating; digitization and management.