African Studies

Program Offerings

Offering type

Africa is the continent where humanity began and where its future will be determined. Princeton’s minor in African Studies provides opportunities to all Princeton students, regardless of major, to learn about the continent. Students will learn a variety of methods, interdisciplinary approaches and perspectives that will enrich them with critical and analytical tools for engaging with Africa. These perspectives will aid them in their studies generally, enhancing skills used across all disciplines. The minor is devoted to the study of the Histories, Cultures, Religions, Literature, Languages, and Arts of Africa. Classes in Africa’s politics, economic life, social history and ecology are offered each semester. The minor also offers classes in Africa’s vibrant art scenes, past and present, where literature, music and art have come to define a new postcolonial African cosmopolitanism. Opportunities to learn Swahili and Twi are offered in the fall and spring on campus and internationally each summer. The Program in African Studies is uniquely situated to teach students ethical approaches to the study of Africa that will serve them well in all areas of study.

Goals for Student Learning

  • Students gain knowledge of the fundamental principles of research and study as they relate to the African continent and explore how these principles interact with each other across disciplines.
  • Students develop skills in policy and historical analysis, critical thinking, arts and cultural literacy, and ethical reasoning as applied in the study of Africa and its diaspora.
  • Students acquire analytical research skills and mastery of interdisciplinary approaches to ideas, theories and issues pertinent to Africa.
  • Students gain understanding and knowledge of real-world challenges and prospects facing Africa, and its regions and countries, through coursework and experiential learning hosted on the continent, such as the global seminars, international language study and summer internships.
  • Students develop relationships with an interdisciplinary and international cohort and faculty, and thus acquire the experiential and knowledge-based resources necessary for work and life in Africa, as well as for global outlook and citizenship.
  • Students acquire cultural diversity awareness and competencies through Africa-focused courses, student-run events and programs organized jointly by the Program in African Studies, Africa World Initiative and African Humanities Colloquium.
  • Students appreciate the emergence of African Studies out of the continent’s struggle for independence from European imperialism, and the imperative of moving the field away from its colonial and racist roots.


Students should have at least one core course completed by the spring of their junior year. One 200- or 300-level course administered or cross-listed by the Program in African Studies will serve to fulfill this requirement.

Admission to the Program

Undergraduates should enroll in the minor for African Studies in the spring of their junior year by contacting the program's manager. Students are asked to submit a letter of intent to the administrator of the Program in African Studies. Once the student is actively enrolled in the minor, they will be scheduled to meet with a member of the African Studies faculty to discuss their future course of study.

Program of Study

Five courses are required for the minor — one core course and four electives. Students are expected to take one course in the humanities, one African language course (Twi, Ge’ez or Swahili) and one course in the social sciences (History, Politics, Sociology or Anthropology).  Any courses cross-listed with the Program in African Studies are preapproved to count toward fulfillment of the minor. Courses not cross-listed with African Studies, but devoting significant course time to issues on the continent, may be submitted for review by the program director for credit.

The requirement of African languages can be fulfilled by one semester of an African language on campus or intense study with a summer program (SWA 103K or TWI 103G). Two courses counting toward the student’s major field of concentration may also be counted (or double counted) toward fulfilling the minor in African Studies. All courses for the PAS minor must be taken for a grade, not pass/D/fail.

With prior approval from the director of the Program in African Studies, a student may satisfy the requirement of one elective by spending six or more weeks working on a project or with a program on the continent.

Language Requirements

One semester of an African language course is required for the minor. The requirement can be fulfilled by one semester of an African language on campus or intense study with a summer program.

Independent Work

In addition to the coursework, the student will submit a paper dealing with Africa. The student may submit the senior thesis or junior paper or another substantial piece of original research that meets the same standards of relevance to Africa.

Additional Requirements

The Program in African Studies Executive Committee will independently review each student’s JP or thesis and full academic record before approving fulfillment of the minor.

Study Abroad

The Program in African Studies strongly encourages students to study in Africa. The Program in African Studies and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies list a number of excellent programs on their websites.

Princeton in Africa

Students interested in working in Africa after graduation can apply to the Princeton in Africa (PiAF) program for fellowships. Princeton in Africa seeks to develop young leaders who understand Africa's important past and who are committed to the continent's vibrant future. To accomplish this, PiAF offers year-long, postgraduate internships with a variety of organizations that work across the African continent.

Additional Information

The Program in African Studies sponsors conferences, seminars and lectures throughout the year that bring to the University distinguished scholars, government officials and other experts with diverse points of view and interests in Africa. Students in the program are encouraged to participate in African Studies events around campus.


  • Director

    • Chika O. Okeke-Agulu
  • Executive Committee

    • Wendy Laura Belcher, Comparative Literature
    • Jacob S. Dlamini, History
    • Simon E. Gikandi, English
    • Sanyu A. Mojola, Sociology
    • Mahiri Mwita, Prnctn Inst Intl & Regnl Studs
    • F. Nick Nesbitt, French & Italian
    • Chika O. Okeke-Agulu, Art and Archaeology
    • Carolyn M. Rouse, Anthropology
  • Associated Faculty

    • André Benhaïm, French & Italian
    • Andy P. Dobson, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
    • Emmanuel H. Kreike, History
    • Florian Lionnet, Council of the Humanities
    • Daniel Rubenstein, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
    • Gavin Steingo, Music
    • Leonard Wantchekon, Politics
    • Jennifer A. Widner, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
  • Sits with Committee

    • Hannah Essien
    • Mahiri Mwita
    • Alain St. Pierre

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.


AFS 200 - Introduction to African Studies Not offered this year SA

An exploration of the past, present, and future of Africa in a multidisciplinary setting. A dozen Africanist faculty members collaborate in an effort to shed light on both the huge potential of Africa and its peoples and the enormous challenges the continent faces. Topics vary from politics, economics, conservation, biodiversity, climate change, the environment, health and disease, and written and oral literature, to the impact of the world on Africa as well as Africa's contributions to and place in worlds present and past. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Staff

AFS 202 - The Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East and Egypt (also ART 200/NES 205) Not offered this year LA

AFS 206 - Human Evolution (also ANT 206) EC

AFS 239 - Introduction to African Literature and Film (also AAS 239/COM 239/HUM 239/TRA 239) Fall CDLA

AFS 258 - Music of Africa (also MUS 258) LA

AFS 312 - Documentary Filmmaking in Kenya (also ENV 308/GLS 312/VIS 310) Not offered this year LA

AFS 313 - Precolonial Africa (also HIS 314) Not offered this year HA

AFS 314 - The Anthropology of Development (also ANT 314/ENE 314) SA

AFS 316 - Colonial and Postcolonial Africa (also AAS 315/HIS 315/URB 315) Spring HA

AFS 330 - Landmarks of French Culture (also FRE 330) LA

AFS 366 - Politics in Africa (also POL 366) Not offered this year CDSA

AFS 400 - Topics in African Studies Not offered this year

Designed to allow juniors and seniors enrolled in the program to examine significant problems in Africa in an interdisciplinary manner. Topics vary from year to year, reflecting faculty research interests. Prerequisite: one core course and one cognate course, or instructor's permission. Required of all program concentrators; open to others by permission of program director and course instructor. Staff

AFS 405 - Topics in Anthropology (also ANT 405) HASA

AFS 411 - Art, Apartheid, and South Africa (also AAS 411/ART 471) Spring CDLA

AFS 415 - Topics in Literature and Ethics (also COM 446/ENG 415/JRN 415) Fall CDEM

AFS 416 - Topics in Postcolonial Literature (also COM 423/ENG 417) Not offered this year LA

AFS 450 - Critical African Studies (also AAS 451) Fall CDHA

Critical African Studies is a colloquium designed as a capstone course for African Studies Certificate students. The course is designed to introduce students to cutting-edge scholarship in African Studies. Students engage with African Studies scholars from Princeton University and beyond. In addition to attending the African Studies Lecture Series and Works-in-Progress series, students in Critical African Studies will workshop their junior or senior independent research. This capstone course is open to junior and senior certificate students and must be taken to fulfill the African Studies Certificate requirements. C. Rouse

AFS 465 - Political and Economic Development of the Middle East and North Africa (also NES 465/POL 465) Fall SA

SWA 101 - Elementary Swahili I Fall

An introduction to Kiswahili language and culture. Focuses on the development of the communication skills students need to interact with Swahili speakers. Instruction emphasizes cultural themes and experiential activities that enhance the four components of speaking, writing, listening, and reading. Students will also gain some insight into the cultures of East Africa. Four classes. No credit is given for SWA 101 unless followed by SWA 102. M. Mwita

SWA 102 - Elementary Swahili II Spring

Continuation of SWA 101. Emphasis is on increasing proficiency in reading and listening comprehension, speaking, and writing. Cultural contexts of the East African societies where Swahili is spoken are incorporated in classroom activities in order to enhance communication and cultural proficiency. Prerequisite: SWA 101. Four classes. M. Mwita

SWA 105 - Intermediate Swahili I Fall

This second-year Swahili course focuses on enhancing the communicative skills acquired in the first year. Instruction emphasizes reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The course infuses cultural and sociopolitical aspects of life in East Africa with more complex grammatical concepts such as the subjunctive, grammar infixes, and relative clauses. Prerequisites: SWA 101 and 102, or instructor's permission. Four classes. M. Mwita

SWA 107 - Intermediate Swahili II Spring

Emphasizes conversational fluency and increased facility in reading and writing skills while introducing students to Swahili literature. This literature forms the basis for a survey of cultural issues and more advanced grammar. Students will be able to understand and analyze the main ideas and significant details of materials in Swahili such as media articles, short stories, poetry, short novels, films, and plays. Covers advanced-level Swahili grammar, as well as the development of expository writing skills. Prerequisite: SWA 105, or instructor's permission. Four classes. M. Mwita