Northwestern Qatar and GU-Q introduce minor in Africana Studies

September 21, 2021
Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) and Northwestern Qatar have announced a new joint minor program in Africana Studies. The program will provide a critical understanding of African identities and struggles both within the African continent and in global contexts.
Northwestern Qatar Dean Marwan M. Kraidy said that the program, which will include interdisciplinary and cross-cultural teaching and research in the histories, cultures, economies, politics, and languages and cultural practices of Africans in Africa, will “prepare students in the program with an understanding and interdisciplinary perspective of the Africana experience while faculty – through their research – will contribute to the scholarship on African communities and cultures.”
GU-Q Dean Ahmad Dallal praised the collaborative spirit of both universities, saying “the breadth and depth of this minor and related research are made possible through the joint efforts of professors who identified a need and creatively leveraged the Education City multiversity ecosystem to craft a program which serves the community of learners and the nation as a whole. Through our joint efforts everyone benefits.” 
Northwestern Qatar professor Zachary Wright and GU-Q professor Phoebe Musandu will co-chair the committee that includes Africana Studies faculty Rogaia Abusharaf (GU-Q), Akintunde Akinade (GU-Q), and James Hodapp (Northwestern Qatar). In addition to supervising student completion of six courses in the field of Africana Studies, the committee will work with students to develop senior capstone projects consisting of portfolio presentations, research projects, or multimedia creations.
African history scholar Musandu explains the importance of Africana Studies, saying,“Africa is the cradle from which humans originated. Its history is deep, and it is home to thousands of languages and cultures. It is also a resource-rich continent of 1.2 billion people in 54 countries who are constantly changing the way in which they engage the world. Through this new Africana Studies minor, we hope to enable students to understand some of these dynamics, and to contribute to the university’s provision of as comprehensive an education in international affairs as is possible.”
The program will include African diasporic studies, whether in an American, European, or Asian context, as a welcome reminder that debates surrounding African identity have often been argued in settings where Africans are in the minority. It will also include North Africa alongside the study of sub-Saharan Africa and the African diaspora.
Wright, who teaches courses on African and Middle East history at Northwestern Qatar, said the new minor is designed to prepare students to be knowledgeable about and engaged in diverse scholarly debates on Africana studies. “Perspectives from the Global North – whether the history of European colonial occupation or black Atlantic diasporic studies – have historically dominated African studies and scholarship,” noted Wright. “The new minor will contribute to re-theorizing questions of race, religion, ethnicity, and language when centered in the rich diversity of the African continent and to rethinking the geographical boundaries and conceptual paradigms surrounding the production of knowledge about Africa and its diasporic communities.”
The Africana Studies minor is the latest program offered jointly by Northwestern Qatar and GU-Q. The two schools also jointly run a program in media and politics, offered as a minor at Northwestern Qatar and a certificate at GU-Q.