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50 Years of African Studies at Indiana University

2011 marks the 50th anniversary of Indiana University's African Studies Program (ASP). The ASP has long been one of the leading African Studies programs in the U.S., and has been a Title VI funded National Resource Center since 1965. The African Studies Program's official development as a program began in 1961 with the receipt of a five-year developmental grant from the Ford Foundation, under the directorship of J. Gus Liebenow of the Department of Political Science. The program grew quickly and was designated an African Language and Area Center under the National Defense Education Act in 1965. It has been able to maintain that status through the years and as the Title VI program changed and was moved under the auspices of the Department of Education, and under the directorships of Patrick O'Meara (1971-1993), Brian Winchester (1993-1994), York Bradshaw (1995-1998), John Hanson (1999-2007), and Samuel Obeng (2007-present).

During the early years, the program focused on mainly five areas: West African regional studies, African humanities with an emphasis on the arts and music, problems of development, the historical study of West Africa, and African languages and linguistics. A sixth area of emphasis was the work of Alan Taylor, IU's first African Studies librarian, and his efforts in both developing the African Studies library collection and in training future African Studies librarians.

This focus of the early days has expanded over the years, and the program today is vibrant and flourishing focusing on three broad thematic areas spanning the entire continent of Africa: expressive cultures, political economies and transnationalism. The ASP includes faculty who are engaged in a wide spectrum of research across the African continent and across all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. They are mentoring a diverse group of graduate students in these disciplines as well as in the health sciences and professional schools.

For more detailed information about the African Studies Program, please see:

The African Studies Collection

Beginning with Indiana University's first African Studies librarian in 1965, Alan Taylor, a succession of devoted librarians has built and maintained a collection which ranks among the top tier such collections in the U.S. and internationally. The collection reflects the range of interests among students and faculty with emphasis on in-depth collections in such disciplines as history, anthropology, archaeology, folklore, ethnomusicology, the fine arts, literature, film, communication, culture, linguistics, economics, political science and government, and ecology and conservation, as well as less comprehensively religion, philosophy, geography, and education.

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