African Humanities at UC Berkeley

An image of publications by various Berkeley faculty in the African humanities.

UC Berkeley has a rich tradition of interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching, and practice in African arts and humanities. Led by scholars committed to academic excellence and intellectual rigor, the African humanities curriculum encompasses a range of disciplines, such as languages and literatures, music studies, history of art, performance studies, and digital media. Coursework in the African humanities at Berkeley encourages an understanding of African peoples, cultures, and societies within their own contexts while situating them within the larger context of global systems.

Our internationally renowned faculty research the significance of art, literature, and culture on the African continent from a variety of perspectives. Such perspectives include philosophical, postcolonial, diasporic, environmental, sociopolitical, and aesthetic vantage points. Reflecting Berkeley’s reputation as a university that promotes intellectual innovation, the work of our faculty in the African humanities is published by top peer-reviewed journals and academic presses, as well as showcased through exhibitions and performances. The work of Berkeley’s faculty in the African humanities also demonstrates a persistent commitment to critical engagement and reflection on pressing contemporary issues affecting Africa, with initiatives undertaken in the areas of critical theory, science and technology, ecological sustainability, and social justice.

Students at Berkeley benefit from this array of academic and creative expertise, providing them with a deep understanding of the rich cultural, historical, and intellectual heritage of African arts and literatures. Students are provided with opportunities to engage in thought-provoking discussions in the classroom and to pursue independent or collaborative research with faculty. Through engagement with primary sources and critical analysis, students are equipped with an understanding of the multifaceted narratives that shape Africa's past, present, and future. Students can enrich their studies in the African humanities by pursuing language courses in Amharic, Igbo, Swahili, Arabic, Tigrinya, or Yoruba, either through classes offered at UC Berkeley or through our language course partnership with UCLA.

Berkeley’s Center for African Studies supports work in the African humanities by sponsoring lectures and colloquia, exhibitions, and performances on campus and across the Bay Area. The Center aims to inspire the next generation of Africa-focused scholars, educators, writers, and artists by equipping them to engage with the richness and diversity of African societies. Rocca and Ezera fellowships are available to graduate students pursuing research in the African humanities, providing funding for fieldwork and dissertation writing. Funding from the Geist and Rosberg grants is also available to undergraduate students for travel to Africa to conduct research on topics in the humanities.

Further information on research and teaching in African humanities can be found by visiting the websites of the following faculty members:

African American & African Diaspora Studies
German and Dutch
Gladys Ajaelo Jeroen Dewulf

Amlaku B. Eshetie

History of Art
Ivy Mills

David Kyeu

Zamansele Nsele
Art Practice
Al-An de Souza Mia Fuller
Comparative Literature
Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures
Mohamed Wajdi Ben Hammed Yonatan Binyam
Engineering Design

Rita Lucarelli

Ken Goldberg
Abdul JanMohamed

James Davies

Donna Jones
Theater, Dance, and Performance
Environmental Design
Lisa Wymore
Ronald Rael
Karl Britto
Soraya Tlatli

Popular Cinema Cultures of India and Senegal

A man standing by a film poster, and exhibition items related to cinema in India and Senegal displayed under glass.

Photos from the 2018 exhibition titled "Love Across the Global South: Popular Cinema Cultures of India and Senegal," curated by Ivy Mills, Sugata Ray, Liladhar Pendse, and Adnan Malik.