Africana Studies at Bowdoin is an interdisciplinary field in which students learn about how the modern world came into existence throughout the African continent, and the worldwide African Diaspora, as well as the significant roles Africa and the African Diaspora (which includes the United States) played in creating the modern and contemporary worlds over the last six centuries.

The aim of the program is to develop students’ research, communication, and collaboration skills and habits through academic courses that combine subject areas drawn from anthropology, art history, history, literature, music, political economy, and theater, among other fields of research.

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AF/AM/50 Oral History Project

The arc of the Africana Studies program provides rich opportunities to study and appreciate the role of the African Diaspora in Bowdoin’s own history. Tensions and achievements that came from the development of an Africana Studies program and the experience of black students moving through the College often paralleled national racial developments. In other times, black students experienced difficulties or sought for certain advances that had perhaps not yet come to the forefront of the country’s political field.

In the fall of 2019, students (Nate DeMoranville ‘20, Aisha Rickford ‘20, Marina Henke ‘19) conducted the AF/AM/50 Oral History Project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Africana Studies Program at the College. Over the course of the weekend, they interviewed more than 30 alumni, past professors, and staff. Interviewees varied across many spectrums: black and white, old and young. Some had not been back to Bowdoin for more than a decade. Others still lived in Brunswick. While in no way entirely encompassing the experience of black students at Bowdoin or the history of the Africana Studies Program, this project aimed to provide a window into the lives of a select few. These selections are not representative. No path through Bowdoin was identical. Hopes for the future of the College ranged widely. Themes and topics certainly emerged: of isolation, of prejudice, of pushback, but also of friendship and resilience.

Click below to access Bowdoin Library’s Digital Online Archives, where all interviews along with transcriptions are posted.

AF/AM/50 Oral History Project | Special Collections and Archives

Media Links
AF/AM/50 Oral History Show on Display in Lamarche Gallery
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