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African and African Diaspora Studies Program

at boston college

Welcome to the website for the African and African Diaspora Studies Program at Boston College. The program has an illustrious history and a promising future.

The African and African Diaspora Studies Program (AADS) considers the history, culture, and politics of Africans on the subcontinent and African-descended peoples in the U.S., the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Covering a vast historical period and geographical expanse, African and African Diaspora Studies acquaints students with the multiplicity and diversity of the African diaspora and the world in which we all live. Using an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, the program draws on a broad range of methodologies in the Humanities and Social Sciences including those in English, History, Sociology, Philosophy, Theology, and Communications. These diverse methodologies help reveal the deep roots and diverse routes that have shaped African and African-descended peoples and continue to inform their lives today.

Three themes are central to the African and African Diaspora Studies Program: Globalization, Intersectionality, and Social Justice. Globalization is as old as the trade in African slaves. Consequently, patterns of travel, labor, trade, commerce and resource extraction have impacted the experiences of African-descended peoples and the peoples they have encountered. AADS courses explore the connections between various geographic regions, cultural traditions, and historical developments that have defined globalization.

An intersectional approach emphasizes the fact that race is defined by various identity categories and social locations. Gender, class, color, region, nation, age, sexuality, political ideals, and spiritual beliefs all determine how one experiences and understands racial identity. Intersectionality reminds us that race is not a monolithic or homogeneous category of human experiences; rather history, culture, and various social locations shape how we understand others and ourselves as racialized beings.

The history of African and African-descended peoples has, in large part, been defined by the struggle for social justice. the fight for racial equality and against discrimination, sexism, homophobia, and class exploitation has shaped the history of African diasporic peoples. In resisting enslavement, segregation, patriarchy, imperialism, and colonialism, by striving to overturn discrimination in housing, healthcare, employment, religious institutions and families, African and African diasporic peoples have undertaken drives for social emancipation that have challenged all people and all nations to realize their democratic ideals.

In addition to foregrounding these themes, the African and African Diaspora Studies Program is rigorously interdisciplinary. The use of numerous methodological approaches - literary, historical, sociological, economic and cultural - along with a knowledge of various linguistic, cultural and spiritual traditions is essential to the program's method. African and African Diaspora Studies courses draw from various Boston College departments including English, History, Communications, Theater and Sociology. Given its rich interdisciplinarity and expansive focus, the program not only offers all students courses that will enrich their overall educational experience, but it also provides more specialized knowledge for our minors.

Students interested in pursuing focused study and research in African and African Diaspora Studies may chose to Minor in African and African Diaspora Studies or pursue an Independent Major in African and African Diaspora Studies as part of their undergraduate programs.