Africana Studies is the multidisciplinary analysis of the lives and thoughts, broadly defined, of people of African ancestry on the African continent and throughout the world; this includes their histories, languages, and cultures, as well as socioeconomic and political realities anywhere people of African descent are found.
The term Africana Studies is sometimes used interchangeably with Black Studies, African-American Studies, and Afro-American Studies. That we call our Program one of Africana Studies suggests that, in our research and teaching, we seek a geographical focus beyond the United States; our interests include, but are not limited to, the cultures and histories of African-descended people in the Caribbean, North America, Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Africana Studies, in other words, encompasses the cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora.
The Africana Studies Program examines the constructions of blackness across ethnic, regional, and national boundaries. Africana Studies uses a cultural studies approach to investigate “black ways of knowing” as alternative methods to those posed by Western epistemology. Furthermore, the Africana Studies Program encourages cutting-edge scholarship that challenges stereotypical representations of the peoples of Africa and of African descent.
Our core and affiliate faculty include professors from the Departments of Anthropology, Communication, English, Hispanic Studies, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology, along with Film Studies, Performance Studies, Religious Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies Programs.
The Sankofa bird symbol appears frequently on materials representing the Africana Studies Program at Texas A&M University. This symbol, important to the Akan people of Ghana, shows a bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back. The word sankofa is loosely translated as “go back and fetch it,” suggesting our need to learn from the past as we seek to move into the future.