New York University's Department of History offers a premier site for training in the Ph.D. in African History. As a methodologically innovative field, African history challenges conventional approaches to geographic and temporal units of analysis. At NYU our faculty research and teach African history from earliest times to the present, from East to West to South, as well as Africa’s engagement with the wider world. Our strengths include:
Robyn d’Avignon: history of science and the environment, agrarian political life, ethnic and state formation, Islam and African religions, history and anthropology, West Africa
Monique Bedasse: Modern East Africa, decolonization, intellectual history, pan-Africanism, transnational history
Michael Gomez: early and medieval West Africa, Islam, African diaspora, social and cultural history
Julie Livingston: the body, gender, health and healing, development, history and anthropology, southern Africa
Madina Thiam: Modern West Africa, African Diaspora, the Sahel, Mali, gender, slavery, colonialism, mobility, memory, anti-colonial movements, women's freedom struggles
The NYU Department also boasts arguably the leading PhD program in the history of the African Diaspora, so that this related field enlarges the cohort of people with interests in the African continent and its connections to the rest of the world.
The faculty in African history encourages students to combine specialization with broad familiarity with the contours of African history. Thematic rubrics include, but are not limited to: gender, Islam and religion, slavery and labor, foreign domination and resistance, society and culture, health, systems of production and exchange within and beyond the continent, the variety of forms of state power, and economic development.
Students in all geographic fields within the NYU History Department take some of their courses together and therefore interact, fostering a common sensibility as professional historians. Within the department are additional lines of inquiry that have an especially close relationship to the African continent. These include Latin America and the Caribbean, the Atlantic World, European, and U.S. fields. A number of historians within the Department study questions of empire and colonization, providing a broad comparative context for enriching the field of African History.
In addition to the five Africanists in New York City, Erin Pettigrew (West African and Saharan social history, Islam, healing and health, colonialism) is based in NYU’s campus in Abu Dhabi. While the PhD in African history is only offered at the New York campus, there are multiple avenues through which students may benefit from working with Abu Dhabi-based colleagues.
Making Connections. Within the History Department, the Africa~Diaspora Forum creates an intimate setting within which graduate students engage with leading experts. The Atlantic History Workshop is a dynamic year-long series that also includes many specialists in Africa.
Outside of the History Department, there are a number of spaces that either emphasize or often relate to issues concerning Africa. NYU’s Center for the Study of Africa and the African Diaspora (CSAAD) hosts multiple fora within which students and faculty can interrogate matters pertaining to Africa along with scholars from around the world. There is also the Institute of African American Affairs, where leading African scholars and cultural workers are often featured. Africa House has an active program of talks and conferences that focus on economic and development issues. La Maison Française often highlights issues and scholars of particular relevance for Africa or colonization more generally. The Institute of French Studies—which has a joint Ph.D. program with the Department of History—frequently features prominent scholars of Francophone West Africa. The Kervorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies offers a variety of programs and events, a number of which concern Africa, while the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World engages with matters of antiquity that include ancient Egypt and Nubia. The Tisch School of the Arts has a formal relationship with the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and there is lectureship series on Africa in the Stern School of Business. Complementing the foregoing are interdisciplinary programs such as Africana Studies, American Studies, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, French Studies, Museum Studies, Gender Studies, and Metropolitan Studies. These programs constitute a stellar quality of interdisciplinary training through which students develop a broader sense of methods and experience, and students concentrating in African history may choose one of these areas as a second field.
There are also a significant number of individuals throughout the university who are trained Africanists, and with whom historians-in-training can work in various fields. These include Awam Amkpa (NYU-Abu Dhabi and Africana Studies); Renée Blake (Africana Studies); Manthia Diawara (Comparative Literature); William Easterly (Economics); Rosalind Fredericks (Geography and Urban Studies, the Gallatin School); Duncan Yoon (Comparative literature, the Gallatin School) Ogden Goelet (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World); Yaw Nyarko (Economics); Michael Ralph (Metropolitan Studies); Mark Sanders (Comparative Literature); Adedamola Osinulu (Liberal Studies), Prita Meier (Art History) and John Singler (Linguistics).
In addition to the campus in Abu Dhabi, NYU has a study abroad program in Accra, Ghana, and there are possibilities for graduate students for research, language study, and related experience at both sites.
Finally, the New York areas offers incomparable advantages for research and scholarly interaction, including the Consortium of New York Area Graduate Schools, which enables students to take courses at other universities in the area. We have particularly strong links with Columbia University, where many of our students enroll in doctoral-level courses and attend Columbia’s University Seminar on Studies in Contemporary Africa.
African Languages. At present Arabic, Kiswahili and Yoruba are offered at NYU. Students will find other language training opportunities in the New York area, or can enroll in one of the summer programs in African languages conducted at various African area studies centers around the country.