SOAS revamps its approach to African Studies with new undergraduate programme

SOAS University of London has launched a new undergraduate programme,  Africa and the Black Diaspora. This degree programme signals a new approach to re-imagining Africa and the Black Diaspora as part of SOAS’s broader social justice agenda found in the institutional community pillar of the new strategic plan.

The new degree, BA Africa and the Black Diaspora, draws on lessons from the Africa Review, which called for a more critical approach to research and teaching that reflects a commitment to decoloniality, inclusiveness and interdisciplinarity, as well as from the commissioned exercise on an African Studies degree led by Dr Sindi Gordon in 2020.

The new BA programme will enable students to situate and engage with Africa in the global stage by acquiring substantive knowledge of historical and topical issues that are related to the continent. Students will also get the opportunity to engage with their own understanding of contemporary themes including migration, colonialism, economic change, climate change and popular culture.

Dr Ida Hadjivayanis, Swahili Studies, who co-designed the course alongside Dr Wayne Dooling, History of Southern Africa, said: “In the process of developing the course, we negotiated some of the key tensions in the study of Africa and its multiple diasporas. We centred the continent and sought innovative ways to engage with its history, its people, its languages, perspectives, politics, cultures etc. This programme fits squarely into what it means to study Africa at SOAS, it carries the expertise of various colleagues within SOAS including Awino Okech, Lutz Marten, Mashood Baderin, Marloes Janson, Alastair Fraser to name a few.

“We are extremely proud that students will be able to combine their study of disciplines including Politics, Social Anthropology, Languages and Cultures, and International Relations with Africa and Black Diaspora. They will be able to do meaningful projects, explore the regions of their interest through our summer or year abroad programmes where they will travel to African Universities.”

SOAS Director Professor Adam Habib said:

“Through reimagining SOAS for the 21st century we are seeking to pioneer new models of education that transcend national boundaries. This new BA demonstrates our firm commitment on rethinking how we study our regions – Africa, Asia and the Middle East – in order to prepare a new generation of graduates who are technically skilled, socially responsive and committed to the building of an equitable planetary community.”

Source: SOAS University of London


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