A New Vision for African Studies in the 21st Century
Things are moving fast in Africa. After two centuries of colonial and post-colonial stagnation, this vast continent is now developing politically and economically at an unprecedented pace. The human energy, drive, aspirations, and creativity of Africans from Tunisia to the Cape of Good Hope, from the Atlantic Coast to the Indian Ocean, makes it more than ever the continent of hope and opportunity.
As the recent media emphasis on the 2011 famine in Somalia shows, Africa is still largely understood in the terms of an all-too familiar narrative of deprivation and corruption. But beyond the vicious circle of human suffering and stereotypes are myriad other stories to be told about the resourcefulness and strength of its inhabitants.
It is thus crucially important that Africa be understood in its full complexity. At UCLA, Africanists in many disciplines, from the sciences to the humanities and the arts, study Africa’s history and politics, tracking the changing trends and the evolving lives of dynamic entrepreneurs, social reformers, writers, and activists who are today shaping the future of their respective nations in the face of momentous global challenges.
UCLA’s African Studies Center is one of the US’s oldest and most distinguished research, teaching, and outreach centers. We continue to build on our existing excellence in research by faculty whose focus runs the gamut from North Africa and the Sahara to Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Congo, Kenya, and the South Western Indian Ocean. The journal African Arts and the Marcus Garvey Papers are two signature projects that have given our Center enormous visibility over the years. Since its founding, UCLA’s African Studies Center has played a role in making a difference in Africa, from leading the educational reform in the post-colonial phase to leadership of the 1980s anti-Apartheid movement, and today is fully engaged in Africa, from health sciences to the arts to the environment.