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African-American and Diaspora Studies

The Program in African American and Diaspora Studies and the Callie House Research Center for the Study of Global Black Cultures and Politics is committed to the pursuit of knowledge, research, and reform. To that end, we offer an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and comparative curriculum of study of the histories, literatures, music, visual cultures, and politics of people of African descent around the world. PAADS focuses on several geographic areas: Africa, the Americas (North & Latin America), the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean area.

The program examines equally the interactions of those diverse geographic areas, whose African-descended multiracial and multicultural inhabitants make up the African diaspora, with Europe. The program recognizes as well that there is a growing population of blacks dispersed throughout Europe, that is, Black Europeans; hence we are equally committed to exploring intellectually Black Europe and the particularities of the Black European experience.

While developing students’ analytical and critical thinking skills through the exploration of the Atlantic World, African American and Diaspora Studies as a field contributes to broader debates about race, religion, gender, culture, class, politics, sexuality, and color. As an intellectual endeavor, the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies advances research and scholarship within the growing field of African diaspora studies via faculty publications and Smoke, Lilies & Jade, our lecture, fora, and symposia series. The program also sponsors the biannually published journal, Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and The Black International as well as the scholarly student organization, Sankofa: Fellows in African American and Diaspora Studies.

Our Courses

African American and Diaspora Studies offers a range interdisciplinary courses such as: Race Matters; Reel to Real: Film Aesthetics and Representation; Mystery, Murder, and Mayhem in Black Detective Fiction; Race, Mixed Race, and “Passing”; Slavery and Public Memory; Diaspora Feminisms; Popular Culture and Black Sexual Politics; Black Masculinity; Blacks in Latin America and the Caribbean; Black Diaspora Women Writers; Making of the African Diaspora; Atlantic African Slave Trade; American Patriots: Blacks in the Military; Black Issues in Education; Global Africa; On Beauty: Black Women and the Politics of Blackness and Beauty; 20th Century African American Biography; Black Europe; Black Paris; Soul Food; Colonialism and After; Haiti: Freedom, Democracy, and Black Resistance.

The program strongly encourages students to pursue a second major. Hence, students who concentrate in AADS are also allowed to take advantage of course offerings in the departments and programs of Anthropology, English, French, History, Political Science, Religious Studies, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies, to name but a few.

Why Study AADS?

Courses in African American and Diaspora Studies will allow you to better grapple with the ideas of plurality and diversity in our multicultural and multiethnic society; such ideas and ideals are integral to understanding today’s complex global realities. The contributions of people of African descent are considerable human achievements in the areas of literature, philosophy, science, music, politics, and visual culture. Concentrators in African American and Diaspora Studies go on to pursue graduate studies in a variety of fields as well as careers in law, government, journalism, business, K-12 and post-secondary education, engineering, and public service, as well as medicine and public health.

Study Abroad

The Program in African American and Diaspora Studies and Research Center at the University of Cape Town and at Stellenbosch University (in the Winelands of South Africa) allows students to explore a range of courses in the humanities, music, fine arts, commerce, sciences, engineering, and African languages. Interested students should contact the Global Education Office for more information on international programs and financial aid.


For information about faculty and their research areas, visit vu.edu/aads.


Latonral Hardin
Program Administrator

African-American and Diaspora Studies Website