The Africana and African American studies minor (AFAM) encompasses the multidisciplinary, comparative and global study of peoples and cultures of Africa and its Diasporas. Diaspora is defined by dispersals and mobilities of populations, the result of exploration, migration and or coercion. African Diaspora communities exist everywhere, from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, to South and North America. We consider how Africana heritage and culture is shaped by these long-standing, long-range networks and connections between diverse places, making our focus importantly geographic and our content intrinsically cosmopolitan.
We foreground the experiences of African, African Diaspora and African American communities in our research, teaching and engagement. We consider how understanding exceptional experiences and histories of exclusion and communion can inform work for building a more sustainable, equitable and just world.
Blackness is a primary root for study and practice in the AFAM minor at UNH. Notwithstanding complex historic antecedents of race and racism, we consider how Blackness (/blackness) first consolidated as racial phenomena in the fifteenth century through global commodity capitalism. In this process, the modern enslavement and worldwide dispersal of African peoples arguably made up the first historic articulations of Blackness, the first major instance of globalization and one of the worst tragedies of human history with which we still reckon today. Throughout this history, the meanings and operations of race and racism in local contexts have not been altogether uniform but nonetheless reveal common dynamics of Black peoples’ marginalization and structural dispossession of sociocultural, political and material resources.
In this root, AFAM students learn about varieties of historic and contemporary Blackness and what it means to be Black (/black): as lived experience, categorical attribution and aspect of intersecting identities; as creatively spiritual, aesthetic, and discursive expression and media; as antiracist reclamation and foundation for agency, activism and sociopolitical mobilization; and as a fount for queerness, love, joy and liberation. Our students and faculty consider how Blackness and or Black experiences are multidimensional and multivalent, subject to ongoing clarification within and among diverse communities worldwide, and differently and lyrically voiced and performed for multiple means and ends. We consider how Blackness entails an existential and practical quest for freedom from oppressive orders and boundary-making.
The AFAM program has a strong focus on coursework and research on African American and or Black peoples in the United States, as their cultures and history have been integral to the development of the nation-state and also highlight the country’s problems and promises. The program also offers many courses on the cultures and history of Africa and its other Diaspora communities. Our courses range from the humanities to the social and natural sciences, and our approaches and methods are applicable to virtually all areas of study at UNH. Students are encouraged to take courses from a variety of disciplines. The minor therefore is designed to serve the needs of all students, regardless of their background, and to complement their work in their major fields of study.
Our program faculty’s interests lie in: histories and dynamics of enslavement; socioeconomic inequalities implicating class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and age; Black women’s livelihoods and social movements; critical and liberatory approaches to education and pedagogy; intertextual and sociohistorical approaches to Africana poetry and literature; kinship, family and human development studies in cultural and historic context; Africana spirituality and religions; and geographies and politics of African and Diaspora communities and nation-states.
We maintain close intellectual and practical solidarities with UNH’s Center for the Humanities, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and other interdisciplinary minor programs in American studies, Native American and Indigenous studies, queer studies, and race and ethnic studies. Our program faculty also maintain ties with Black educational and community organizations, such as the Seacoast African American Cultural Center, Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire and others in the region.
AFAM consists of five, 4-credit courses (or any course combination for 20 credits total). These include (1) one 400 or 500 level introductory course taught by a program faculty member, (2) other approved elective courses related to the student's choice of concentration, and (3) one course at the 600 or 700 level, also taught by a program faculty member. Students must earn a C- or better in each course, and maintain a 2.0 grade-point average in courses taken for the minor.
The introductory course is meant to provide students with a general understanding of subjects and areas within the broader and related fields African, African Diaspora, African American and Black studies. Electives enable students to explore their interests and or develop greater understanding and synthesis of these subjects and areas. The program keeps a list of approved and consistently offered elective courses. Each semester the program coordinator and program assistant compiles and posts all courses that can count toward the minor on our webpage. Study abroad credits may also count with permission from the coordinator or other program faculty.
The upper-level course requirement is meant to be a culmination of a student’s work in the minor and a key conversation point with program faculty about future research and graduate study, community engagement and career options. Students should arrange to meet with the faculty teaching this course early in the semester to establish goals for this culminating experience.
Students can also pursue independent study and internship options as well for their elective or upper-level course requirement, with on-campus or community organizations such as the UNH Beauregard Center or Black Students Union, Seacoast African American Cultural Center, Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire or local chapters of national organizations. These options are supervised by program faculty and may be taken under the AFAM or other departmental codes.