The Center for Africana Studies was founded in 2002 through the merger of the Afro-American Studies Program and the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2015, the Center merged with Penn’s Africa Center (formerly the African Studies Center), itself a vital and forward-looking center that provided researchers, students and cultural and business entities with extensive knowledge of historical and contemporary Africa. This most recent merger significantly increased the numbers of faculty working on Africa, and expanded and enhanced the activities on Africa at the Center for Africana Studies, further strengthening its place as a leader in research, scholarship and programming on the continent.
The strength of the Center resides largely in its outstanding faculty, representing the majority of the University’s 12 schools as well as a broad range of disciplines, interests and regions of study. The Center for Africana Studies has an extensive commitment to research by its faculty and also hosts research associates whose research and scholarship spans a range of issues related to Africa and the African diaspora.
The Center for Africana Studies hosts numerous programs of regional, national and international significance throughout the year. These programs include researchers, scholars, activists, intellectuals, writers, and artists who engage the University and surrounding communities in debate and discussion, learning and understanding about race and the lives, cultures, and history of people of African descent on the continent and around the world.