Consistent with its title, the Department of African and African American Studies is Duke’s headquarters for interdisciplinary research and teaching about Africa and its various diasporas—in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.  Here, anthropologists, literary critics, political scientists, philosophers, sociologists, historians, and art historians work together with scholars of music, cultural studies, film, performance, popular culture, gender, sexuality, race, public policy, and the law to reveal the multifarious experiences and perspectives of those of African descent as well as to theorize and historicize racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and other markers of difference. In conjunction with this work, we interrogate and rethink the disciplinary methods that conventionally have rendered these experiences and markings invisible. 
For example, in a manner foreshadowing recent studies of “globalization” and “transnationalism,” African and African American studies has endeavored to disrupt the boundaries between conventionally continent-based “area studies.”  For centuries, people of African descent have circulated around the perimeters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the great Afro-Asiatic desert—that conduit of persons, knowledge, and trade that, since the domestication of the camel, has linked Senegambia with northwestern China.  Hence, we highlight the non-linear history of exchanges that have shaped life on every inhabited continent and numerous locales such as the Caribbean sea, the Cherokee nation and those state-less places such as the ship’s hold and the refugee camp.  We concern ourselves as well with Black migrations within the borders of the United States.
The Department currently hosts five faculty synergy groups, which serve as the foci of interdisciplinary innovation: “Gender and Sexuality,” “Studies of the Global South,” “Visual, Performance, and Popular Culture,” “Slavery, Diaspora, and the Atlantic World,” and “Critical Race Theory.”  Each of these faculty synergy groups hosts lectures, working-paper discussions, and public policy workshops to which students, colleagues, and the general public are welcome.
With such exposure, our students pursue careers in medicine and public health, the law, business, the arts, and scholarship, all with the knowledge of how the world works to solidify inequality and maintain positions of dominance.  As such, we provide a wide-ranging introduction to how difference is produced. We equip our students with the best information that scholarship has to offer, as well as the incentive and the technical means to lead.

 

Our Affiliates

AAAS is affiliated with the John Hope Franklin Collection for African and African-American Documentation , which was established in 1995 at the University. The Center's mission is to make available to all researchers a growing body of primary sources and publications in the field.  It counts several notable collections among its holdings, including the papers of Professor John Hope Franklin and the documentation generated by Behind the Veil, an oral history project on African-American life in the Jim Crow South. Current holdings in Perkins Library span several disciplines and include books, manuscripts, archives, periodicals, microfilms, videotapes, and sound recordings.

    • Tainted Couple