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Africana Studies

Overview of Africana Studies

Africana Studies, Black Studies, African-American Studies or Africology,[1] in US education, is the multidisciplinary study of the histories, politics and cultures of peoples of African origin in both Africa and the African diaspora. It is to be distinguished from African studies, as its focus combines Africa and the African diaspora into a concept of an "African experience" with a Pan-African perspective.[2]

In essence, Africana Studies and Black Studies are interchangeable terms stressing black studies in a global and comparative sense, whereas African-American Studies frequently emphasizes the U.S. African-American experience. Programs of study range from interdepartmental programs to autonomous departments, and are offered from the undergraduate through the doctoral levels.

In many institutions, Africana Studies research and study takes place in departments combining African and African-American Studies. Africana studies departments at many major universities grew out of the Black studies programs and departments formed in the late 1960s in the context of the US Civil Rights Movement, as black studies programs were reformed and renamed "Africana studies," with an aim to encompass the continent of Africa and all of the African diaspora using terminology rooted in geography and history rather than race. The first "Africana" studies department was formed after the Willard Straight Hall takeover at Cornell University, an Ivy League School located in Ithaca, New York.

Library of Congress Classifications for Africana Studies

The interdisciplinary nature of Africana/African American studies, works will be found in many areas of the Hesburgh Libraries's Collection under a variety of subject headings. Below are some of the Library of Congress Subject Headings that relate to African American Studies. Note: This is not an exhaustive listing.  You can find more at this link to the LC Classification Outline

  • Politics and Government
  • United States
  • African Diaspora
African Americans
  • History
  • Social Conditions
  • Intellectual Life
  • West Indies
  • French Guiana
  • Activism

Resources to consider at the beginning the Research Process:

News and Popular Press

Popular press resources such as newspapers and magazines are expert but non-scholarly sources that report basic facts and offer opinions. One benefit of these sources is that they are printed shortly after an event, but they do not reach the level of analysis necessary for scholarly work. 

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Dictionaries are most often collections of words in one or more specific languages, usually arranged in alphabetical order, providing information like word meanings, usage, etymology, and, when they contain more than one language, translations. Some dictionaries include information more commonly found in encyclopedias.  Encyclopedias are collections of information on terms, figures, eras, locations also arranged alphabetically, and, alongside definitions of terms, they also include more in-depth general information on a topic. Encyclopedias can be general or subject-specific.