Brown University Africana Studies Department

Brown University Africana Studies Department

Africana Studies is an incredibly rich field that has generated some of the broadest interdisciplinary scholarship in the academy today. This is a field of study in which the experiences, the ideas, the cultures, the life, and lives really of people of Africa and African descent are examined seriously and rigorously. Studies in history, politics and theory, literary expressive cultures, and gender and sexuality studies bring those areas of scholarship in conversation with questions around history and theory and also new modes of delivering this scholarship in terms of literary and expressive cultures. Our curriculum is critical here on the graduate crew. The fact that we can have the kind of students we’ve had over the years, I don’t have to teach anybody who doesn’t want to be in my class. And it makes for a very special kind of chemistry and interaction. Research to performance method is a process whereby playwrights either conduct independent research or they are paired up with a scholar in a certain area. And they create a play that is based upon research. My experience especially with Rites and Reason Theatre has taught me the importance of having a space to gather with people and to engage in critical thinking and community building and all of these ideas. Without that space for that kind of work, you’re really lost. Conversations in Africana with Michael Thelwell, Chinua Achebe, and John Edgar Wideman. I felt like I was in a room of brilliance where every word that came out of their mouths was so thoughtfully crafted. When we actually changed the name from African American Studies to Africana Studies, we had in mind this dialogue between Afro-America, Africa, the Caribbean, Afro-Brazil. The world belongs to all the people of the world. And that, no, no group can get up and say, we are the world. The rest is nothing. I think that there is a great sense of sharing in the department in which everybody’s voice is valuable and each perspective is valuable. Africana Studies has made me think about not only what’s being said but how it’s being said. It was in taking a class, Freedom and African Political Thought, that really just blew the top off of what I thought thinking could be like. The great events we’ve just completed is the SNCC Symposium, celebrating the years of the founding of SNCC, bringing in veterans from all over the country to talk about their experiences. The beauty of being human is that the noises you make are possibly understood by people around you and they reverberate and they’re what connect us to other human beings. And that’s a place I would always start. The students, being able to go as deeply as possible into serious questions but to do so with fresh eyes. Those gifts and talents in such an interdisciplinary and electric place enhances the kind of knowledge that we produce and maintains the tradition of Africana Studies.


  1. No matter how eruditely you say it you are studying rubbish. Imagine going to Brown to learn how to be black?????? Looking on the bright side you may be able to get a job at NPR.

  2. naima lowe got her B.A. in african studies from brown and look and the horribly mislead students she has taught at evergreen lol

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