New York University's Department of History offers the possibility of studying for the Ph.D. in African History in a field that builds not only on the strengths and range of interests of its core faculty but on close connections with related fields of inquiry. With three faculty members specializing on Africa, Frederick Cooper, Michael Gomez, and Richard Hull, the field covers Africa from early to recent times and from East to West to South. Moreover, the NYU Department has a well established and highly regarded field in the history of the African Diaspora, and students in that field enlarge 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. Students may want to work on West, East, Central, North, or South Africa; on various time periods from ancient to modern, and on different themes. Thematic rubrics include, but are not restricted to: gender, Islam and religion, slavery and labor, foreign domination and resistance, society and culture, state articulation, and economic development. In addition to the major field, students must select a second field, whether in history or another discipline.
Making Connections. With regard to the university, there are a number of programs from which graduate students in African history can benefit. They include Ancient Studies which focus on Egypt in the Institute of Fine Arts, African-related curricula in the Tisch School of the Arts (which has a formal relationship with the University of Cape Town, South Africa), and a lectureship series on Africa in the Stern School. There is also Africa House, an emerging think tank concerned with economic and development issues. Yet another major strength is the existence of interdisciplinary programs such as Africana Studies, American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, French Studies, Museum Studies, Gender Studies, Metropolitan Studies. The presence of such programs fosters a curriculum that moves beyond the mere addition of a course in a non-history field, and will make it possible to acquire a quality of interdisciplinary training whereby students develop a broader sense of methods and audience. To this end, students concentrating in African history may choose one of these areas as their second field.
Within the department, lines of inquiry are already in progress which relate directly to the African continent. The Atlantic World field is one of these, as are the Latin American, Caribbean, European, and U.S. fields. A large cluster of historians within the department study questions of empire and colonization in different places, times, and contexts, and much of their work is directed about the relationship of colonizing processes to different kinds of indigenous polities. All this provides a broad comparative context for enriching the field of African History.
There are also a significant number of individuals throughout the university who are trained Africanists, with whom historians-in-training can work in various fields. Included in this number are Manthia Diawara and Awam Amkpa in Africana Studies; Rosalind Fredericks in Gallatin; Thomas Beidelman in Anthropology; Fran White, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs; Yaw Nyarko and William Easterly in Economics; Mark Sanders in Comparative Literature; Ogden Goelet in Middle Eastern Studies; and John Singler in Linguistics.
NYU has also launched a study abroad program in Accra, Ghana. Although undergraduates are the primary focus of this program, there will be opportunities and financial support for graduate students interested in research, language study, and African experience to be based there.
African Languages. At present Arabic and Kiswahili (in Africana Studies) are offered. 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.