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African studies

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Title: African studies  
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African studies

African studies is the study of Africa, especially the continent's cultures and societies (as opposed to its geology, geography, zoology, etc.). The field includes the study of Africa's history (Pre-colonial, colonial, post-colonial), demography (ethnic groups), culture, politics, economy, languages, and religion (Islam, Christianity, traditional religions). A specialist in African studies is often referred to as an "Africanist". A key focus of the discipline is to interrogate epistemological approaches, theories and methods in traditional disciplines using a critical lens that inserts African-centred ways of knowing and references.

For Africanists, also known as communitarians, problems within Africa are thought to be caused because the real flesh-and-blood communities that comprise Africa are marginalized from public life as so many "tribes". Therefore the solution is understood to be the need to defend culture and put Africa's age-old communities at the center of African politics. It is also argued that there is a need to "deexoticize" Africa and banalise it, rather than understand Africa as exceptionalized and exoticized.[1]

Notable deceased Africanists

University-based centers

National and transnational centers



Degree programs

United States of America Howard University, PhD

  • Ohio University, Masters in African Studies
  • Beloit College, African Studies Minor - Interdisciplinary undergraduate minor field of concentration
  • Rutgers University, undergraduate major and minor in African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures, with a regional focus


  • Carleton University, Institute of African Studies - Combined Honours Undergraduate Degrees and Collaborative Masters in African Studies






United Kingdom

Further reading

  • Gershenhorn, Jerry, “‘Not an Academic Affair’: African American Scholars and the Development of African Studies Programs in the United States, 1942–1960,” Journal of African American History, 94 (Winter 2009), 44–68.

See also

External links

  • African e-Journals Project, Michigan State University (Provides (1) a directory of more than 2,100 journals about Africa with their URLs, and where to find tables of contents, abstracts, and full text of articles online, and (2) a full-text archive of back issues of 11 African scholarly journals in the social sciences and humanities.)
  • African Studies Centres worldwide (Excerpt of the website database of ilissAfrica)
  • AFRICAN STUDY: African Language Publishing For Children In South Africa (This African study focuses on the dearth of teaching and learning materials in African languages required to deliver effective bilingual education, and on the potential role of translation in offering solutions for this problem.)

Library Guides for African Studies


  1. ^ Mamdani, M. (1996), Chapter 1 from Mamdani, M., Citizen and Subject: contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism.
  • ASA Distinguished Africanist Award Winners
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