The future of African studies in academia was discussed in depth March 5 at the 21st annual Darl Snyder Lecture and Luncheon presented by the African Studies Institute.
Oloruntoyin Falola, a renowned Africanist and history professor at the University of Texas at Austin, delivered the lecture at the Chapel. In his address, he encouraged the inclusion of African immigrants in the broader academic discussion of black studies in the U.S.
A luncheon following the lecture recognized faculty, staff and students for contributions to the African Studies Institute.
Established in 1992, the lecture honors former UGA administrator Darl Snyder for his research and African service-learning programs. Each year, the lecture brings an accomplished African studies scholar to campus to speak.
For the first time in its history, Snyder was unable to attend the lecture due to health reasons. Akinloye Ojo, director of the Institute for African Studies, said Snyder’s presence was missed during the lecture and the luncheon.
In his keynote address, Falola called for greater integration of African studies and African-American studies in the U.S.
“We should rethink this discipline and begin to think of new courses to create and a new set of questions to ask,” he said.
Currently in academia, Falola said, African-American studies focuses on the experience of black people in North America through the lens of slavery and oppression. In contrast, African studies, which often comes from the perspective of recent African immigrants, focuses on issues of “mobility, challenges and opportunities.”
“There are other bodies of knowledge in relation to blackness, migration, exile and transnationalism,” Falola said. “The study of the new African diaspora (recent immigrants) warrants its own place of pride in what is called ‘black studies.’ ”
Falola also said the African studies curriculum at universities should coordinate with other fields on campus, including entrepreneurship, to offer practical applications.
During the post-lecture luncheon, Ojo presented awards to honor those who have made significant contributions to the institute.
Maria Navarro, an associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was honored for her leadership and introduction of an agricultural curriculum to the African Studies Institute.
Exemplary service awards were given to Jacquie Houston, a retired UGA librarian; Felisters Kiprono, a career and information studies doctoral student from Kenya; and Emily A. Wilson, a junior history and political science major from Flowery Branch.