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Africana Studies was launched in 2009 as a new interdisciplinary program merging the major in Black Studies and the concentration in African Studies.

Black Studies

"Established in the Fall of 1997 as an undergraduate, academic unit within Arts & Sciences, Black Studies, at William & Mary, provides an interdisciplinary framework for examining the experiences of people of African heritage. The curriculum engages students in the critical examination of black diasporic cultural traditions and race relations in Africa, the Caribbean Basin and especially North America; Black Studies regards black people and their cultures as essential, organic components of the societies in which they live. The major and minor in Black Studies draw on fields such as history, sociology, economics, anthropology, literature, music, drama, dance, film, and the visual arts."

The first program director of Black Studies according to William & Mary's 1997-1998 undergraduate catalog, was Jacquelyn Y. McLendon, a professor in the Department of English and Africana Studies.1

Africana Studies

"Africana Studies is an interdisciplinary major that explores the scholarship on the history and cultural traditions, and the political and economic circumstances which together define over 1.2 billion people of African descent. Students take a common set of core courses, and may select one of three tracks in which to concentrate:

  • African Studies
  • African-American Studies
  • African-Diaspora Studies

"The central mission of the Program is to prepare students for lifelong learning, graduate study in various fields, and careers in private and public organizations worldwide. Africana Studies seeks to develop a habit of thinking that is inter-disciplinarily analytical and a habit of heart that is cross-culturally empathetic. Embracing more than the centrality of race, it is designed to apply a comparative lens to the study of imperial, national, ethnic, linguistic, and religious currents and intersections in Africa, and its far-flung Diaspora in North America, the Caribbean Basin, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, and Western Europe."2

Prof. Berhanu Abegaz was the first director of Africana Studies. Prior to that he was chair of the concentration in African Studies.


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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.