Founded in 2004, the Center for Africana Studies serves as the intellectual home for students, researchers, and faculty across the university whose interests include historical, political, artistic, scientific, literary, educational, and economic work engaging with Africa and the African Diaspora.
The Center promotes rigorous, methodical, and unflinching discussion about the kidnapping, transportation, and enslavement of millions of Africans in the Americas over hundreds of years; the fact that legal slavery existed in the United States until 150 years ago; and the legacy of race-based slavery and the fight for citizenship and equal rights in this country that manifests itself in every building, hall, laboratory, library, and classroom across the university.
The Center’s interests include how the effects of longstanding race inequality can be discerned in the historic and present makeup of the university’s faculty, students, and staff; how patterns of wealth accumulation have shaped the nation’s and the university’s finances; how views about race have framed research methodologies, human subject testing, and ways of organizing data in the life sciences; how racial politics affects the choice of works taught (or avoided) in the humanities and social sciences; how the character of neighborhoods in and around Hopkins campuses is demonstrably a legacy of racism; and how the criminal justice system operates in Baltimore and around the country.
The rigorous study by CAS faculty also engages scholarship about African diaspora cultures and peoples before the founding of the United States, as well as the study of contextual linkages with other world cultures of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America. In all such discussions, we strive to be critically aware of the words and concepts—as well as unquestioned assumptions and (often unintended) stereotypes—that we employ when we talk about race, racism, and diversity.
We are actively engaged in questions of what we’re calling Black Studies 3.0. What is the future of Africana Studies in an age of political protest. Robin D. G. Kelley offers some guidance here. We ask of Black Studies what he asks of students: are we in the university or of it? We choose in it, with the responsibility to challenge it, productively. Productive challenge means education, focused research, and proposals for direct action.
Accordingly, the primary focus of the Center is asking fundamental questions of our role even as we continue facilitating collaboration among social science, science, and humanities students and scholars researching the place of Africans and their descendants around the world.
We offer an undergraduate major and minor and provides teaching and research opportunities for graduate students. Our executive board of 10 actively engaged faculty represent the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Peabody Institute, the Carey Business School, the School of Education, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Academy. We sponsor various speaker series, symposia, seminars, and university-wide discussions.
We offer courses such as History of Black Americans, The Public Health Crisis in Africa, Power and Racism, and a Survey of African American Literature; and cross-listed courses such as Time to Kill: Race, Punishment, Death, and Desire; Race and Ethnicity in American Society; African Philosophy; and African Cities.