Naming and Defining: A Critical Link (Part I: Department Chair and Faculty Perspectives) (Report) - The Western Journal of Black Studies

Naming and Defining: A Critical Link (Part I: Department Chair and Faculty Perspectives) (Report)

By The Western Journal of Black Studies

  • Release Date - Published: 2010-06-22
  • Book Genre: Social Science
  • Author: The Western Journal of Black Studies
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Naming and Defining: A Critical Link (Part I: Department Chair and Faculty Perspectives) (Report) The Western Journal of Black Studies read online review & book description:

In the appendix to their recently published Handbook of Black Studies, Asante and Karenga note that "the naming of the discipline" remains "unsettled" (2006, p. 421). This remark came as a result of an extensive survey of existing Black Studies programs, which led to the editors identifying a multiplicity of names for the discipline: Africana Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies, African/Black World Studies, Pan-African Studies, Africology, African and New World Studies, African Studies-Major, Black World Studies, Latin American Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Black and Hispanic Studies, Africana and Latin American Studies, African and African-American Studies, Black and Hispanic Studies, African American Studies, Afro-American studies, African American Education Program, Afro-Ethnic Studies, American Ethnic Studies, American Studies-African-American Emphasis, Black Studies, Comparative American Cultures, Ethnic Studies Programs, Race and Ethnic Studies. The three most common names are, at the present, African American (73), Africana Studies (41) and Black Studies (34). This proliferation of labels attests that, indeed, the question of naming remains a sensitive one for Black Studies. However, and this is one of the main contentions of the present essay, this unfinished naming process reflects a deeper and equally unsettled issue, that of self-definition. The prediction is that as long as Black Studies does not find a place where to stand firmly, new names will keep creeping up. "Africana Studies" is the latest one among them, but, if the analysis made here is correct, it cannot and will not be the last one. The reason for this is that the name Africana Studies belongs to the same paradigm as all the other terms used or created before, with the exception of one (Africology). Central to that paradigm is a definition of Black Studies by subject matter, in this case, "Africana people." Yet, and this is another major contention of this essay, it is precisely this paradigm which is responsible for the confusion which still plagues Black Studies, as reflected in the multiplicity of labels listed above. In order to understand why this is the case, it may be necessary to go back to the beginning.

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