Georgia State University changes its department name to focus on "Africana Studies"

Andrew Alvarez
Emmanuel Ikwuegbu/Unsplash

ATLANTA, GA - Georgia State University recently renamed the Department of African-American Studies to the Department of Africana Studies.

The word "Africana" means studies and research of African descent people in Africa, the United States, and globally. The name is expected to reflect a global perspective to teaching and research in the department, and also represent national trends in the academic world.

“Since its inception in the 1960s, our academic discipline has been identified in numerous ways, from ‘Black,’ to ‘Afro-American’ to ‘African-American Studies'," said professor and chair of the department, Jonathan Gayles.

“These transitions in naming have reflected similar transitions in the self-naming and cultural identification of people of African descent in the United States, as well as philosophical and scholarly perspectives on the discipline.”

In the increasing phenomenon of African populations in the U.S, and also the close connection with the African Diaspora, the name changes are only fitting to widen the campus' views and discipline.

Gayles further stated that the name changes represent the intellectual field and interest in the cultural, historical, and psychological people in the Diaspora including Africa, Europe, and America.

Other Universities also begin to adopt Africana Studies including, Harvard University, Ohio State University, the University of South Florida, and Cornell University.

Georgia State department members believe this trend is important to increase the attention and academic needs of cross-cultural knowledge, in a diverse student population.

“We hope to engage our student body, colleagues in academia and community partners about this name change and use it as an opportunity to continue and strengthen our legacy of academic excellence and scholar-activism,” Gayles said.

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