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Africa on Brown's Campus

Brown recognizes the importance of integrating field research and initiatives with classroom experiences and campus events. In addition to the many opportunities for students to study Africa through concentrations like literature, community health, or development studies—or through the dynamic Department of Africana Studies—the following recent campus programs reflect our effort to make African scholarship an integral part of Brown’s educational and institutional identity:


Since 2003, the Watson Institute for International Studies has supported the Africa Group Colloquium. This network of Brown faculty, students and other colleagues meets monthly to engage issues confronting the countries of the African continent. The series also provides young scholars of Africa with an important opportunity to present their doctoral research. Additionally, the PSTC sponsors a weekly demography colloquium that, since 2006, has included 14 talks on topics related to population and health issues in Africa. Seminars organized by the Working Group on Anthropology and Population also frequently address research on African topics.


Since 2004, Brown’s Africana Film Festival (a joint project of Africana Studies and Modern Culture and Media) has brought together new and established African filmmakers and scholars for screenings, seminars, and workshops. From documentaries to musicals, features to shorts, art house to mainstream; the films reflect the breadth of Africana cinema.


The Rites & Reason Theatre, one of the oldest continuously operating Black theatres in the nation, is dedicated to producing works that give voice to the diverse cultural expressions of the Africana experience. Rites & Reason, an innovative blend of scholarship and theatre, uses research to create its performance pieces.


The International Writers Project (IWP) brings to Brown major writers whose work is often censored in their native countries. Most recently, IWP presented Under the Tongue: a Festival of Literature from Africa, a series of readings and discussions with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria), Nuruddin Farah (Somalia), Chenjerai Hove (Zimbabwe), Jack Mapanje (Malawi), Pierre Mumbere Mujomba (Congo) and Charles Mulekwa (Uganda).

Africana Studies and Literary Arts have collaborated on a project "Conversations in Africana Writing" in which African writers, Caribbean and African American writers have held public conversations with each other about Literature in Africa and the African Diaporia. Most recently the project bought to Brown campus, the famed Kenyian writer Ngugi Wa Thonig'o.


Drawing on the ethnographic collections of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology and other sources, this exhibition aims to explore the ways that Africans, today and in past generations, call on local and global religious traditions for meaning and answers to questions about sickness and health, wealth and poverty, war and peace, power and helplessness, birth, death, and what lies beyond. Believing Africa is co-curated by museum staff, Brown faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students. It has been on view at the Haffenreffer’s Manning Hall Gallery since May 2006.

Believing Africa exhibit