Africana Studies

Welcome to Africana Studies at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio. We offer a planned major or dual major for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree as well as a minor within the College of Arts and Sciences. The major allows students to explore the historical, cultural, literary, and artistic expressions and contributions of peoples of African descent worldwide through an interdisciplinary approach by taking courses in a variety of disciplines and Colleges within the University. If you have further inquiries about any aspects of our program, please contact us. Thank you for visiting our website.

Rebecca L. Skinner Green - Director    419-372-2269, and 419-372-8514

A message from the Department of Africana  Studies

June 5, 2020

In these days following the senseless murder of George Floyd when a Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck—which followed closely upon the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, shot by vigilante citizens while jogging, and of Breonna Taylor, killed by police in her own home—we recognize the terrible history of violence towards Black people by white people and police officers.  In these days of anguish, frustration, rage, and fear—days filled with protest and conflict—we in BGSU’s Africana Studies Program feel the pain and grief, anger and desolation, being experienced by Black Americans. The long-standing impact of the constant violence, structural economic racism, and systemic oppression against Black people in the United States affects all aspects of Black lives, families, and communities. 

The recent violent deaths are added to a long and growing list of Black lives cut short—Tamir Rice, the Charleston Nine, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Keith Scott, Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Tony McDade, Aiyanna Stanley-Jones, Renisha McBride and so many others. The tragedy of these deaths feels even more devastating while the world suffers under the current crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionally lead to the deaths of thousands of Black Americans and only served to underscore the vast racial disparities in health and medical care in this country.

We condemn the constant devaluation of Black lives, and the continual violence perpetrated against Black people and their communities.  The continual oppression and disrespect, the police brutality, and white violence that often feel like daily encounters are reprehensible violations of human rights.

We condemn the violence against individuals protesting social, economic, and racial injustice in cities across the nation. We in the Africana Studies Program commit to standing up for all Black Lives, to recognize and call out Black oppression, implicit bias, micro-aggressions, to de-normalize Black deaths, and to combat systemic racism in our communities, our classrooms, and wherever we encounter it.

Highlights of Program & Options

  • BA in Africana Studies for majors, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Double major in Africana Studies and another Discipline
  • Minor in Africana Studies with  a major in another Discipline
  • Over 15 PhD Faculty Involved in Teaching, Research, and Advising
  • Great flexibility and breadth of coursework available to majors and minors, who can benefit from the internationally recognized expertise of individual faculty whose specialties represent a broad range of disciplines, including art history, history, geography, French, ethnomusicology, media, ethnic studies, popular culture, and English
  • Students can select Individualized Concentrations in African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and/or Afro-Latino cultures
  • Annual Undergraduate Student Research Colloquium, "Emerging Perspectives in Africana Studies", featuring an internationally known keynote speaker from across the US or abroad
  • Guest-Speaker Series Enrichment Program
  • Study Abroad Programs in Ghana and Burkina Faso
  • Internships, Outreach programs, and scholarship of engagement
  • Djisovi Eason Annual Scholarship Awards

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Christopher Witulski has just published a new book, The Gnawa Lions. Traditionally gnawa musicians in Morocco played for all-night ceremonies where communities gathered to invite spirits to heal mental, physical, and social ills untreatable by other means. Now gnawa music can be heard on the streets of Marrakech, at festivals in Essaouira, in Fez’s cafes, in Casablanca’s nightclubs, and in the bars of Rabat. As it moves further and further from its origins as ritual music and listeners seek new opportunities to hear performances, musicians are challenged to adapt to new tastes while competing for potential clients and performance engagements. Christopher Witulski explores how gnawa musicians straddle popular and ritual boundaries to assert, negotiate, and perform their authenticity in this rich ethnography of Moroccan music. Witulski introduces readers to gnawa performers, their friends, the places where they play, and the people they play for. He emphasizes the specific strategies performers use to define themselves and their multiple identities as Muslims, Moroccans, and traditional musicians. The Gnawa Lions reveals a shifting terrain of music, ritual, and belief that follows the negotiation of musical authenticity, popular demand, and economic opportunity.

Christopher Witulski earned his PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Florida in 2014 and holds masters degrees in ethnomusicology and music theory. His research engages changes in sacred performance practices in contemporary Morocco and across North Africa. His book, The Gnawa Lions: Opportunity and Authenticity in Moroccan Ritual Music (October 2018), explores how musicians for a trance-based sub-Saharan healing ceremony in Morocco negotiate their listeners’ tastes, global markets, and the aesthetics required for productive ritual. This work was based on fieldwork in Morocco that was supported by a Fulbright fellowship. His writing appears in Ethnomusicology, Ethnomusicology Forum, the Journal of North African Studies, the Yale Journal of Music and Religion, and the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.

Dr. Witulski is an active performer of Arabic and American old time music on ‘ud, banjo, and violin, having played in the Fez Festival of Sacred Music, across Morocco, and in professional orchestras in Florida and Georgia. Other interests include theoretical and computational approaches to popular and world music and the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in popular manifestations of religious music. Dr. Witulski taught at Florida State University before coming to the BGSU College of Musical Arts in 2016.

Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the baccalaureate degree, students in Africana Studies are expected to be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural nature of Africana Studies;
  • Show significant improvement in their organizational and critical analysis skills through research and writings;
  • Exhibit familiarity with the creativity and diversity that exist among Africana peoples worldwide;
  • Demonstrate ability to utilize interdisciplinary approaches used in, and the range of literatures derived from, scholarly research in the field of Africana Studies;
  • Ability to critically analyze social and cultural issues pertinent to Africana peoples from interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives;
  • Able to understand and apply concepts of African continuity, unity, transformation and Diasporic identity when analyzing cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Accreditation and/or Program/Cluster Review
Bowling Green State University [BGSU] is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.  BGSU has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 01/01/1916. The most recent reaffirmation of accreditation was received in 2012 - 2013. Questions should be directed to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

The Africana Studies program will go through its next Program/Cluster Review during Academic Year 2022/23.

Professional Licensure (If applicable)
Bowling Green State University programs leading to licensure, certification and/or endorsement, whether delivered online, face-to-face or in a blended format, satisfy the academic requirements for those credentials set forth by the State of Ohio.

Requirements for licensure, certification and/or endorsement eligibility vary greatly from one profession to another and from state to state. The Africana Studies program does not lead to professional licensure.

Gainful Employment (If applicable)    
Under the Higher Education Act Title IV disclosure requirements, an institution must provide current and prospective students with information about each of its programs that prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.

The Africana Studies program is not a recognized occupation that requires a Gainful Employment disclosure.