MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Great Ideas Change the World

African and African Diaspora Studies Concentration

The Honorable Barbara Jordan (1936-1996), photographed during the Watergate hearings in U.S. Senate, 1973. Jordan was a stateswoman, Member of the U.S. Congress from the 18th District of Texas, keynote speaker for the 1976 National Democratic Convention, orator and defender of the U.S. Constitution.

"There was only one Barbara Jordan," said Eve Clayton, Representative from North Carolina, "and when she spoke—we listened. The world listened.”  

Recording: Barbara Jordan speaking on the extension of the Voting Rights Act 



The African and African Diaspora Studies Concentration offers a variety of subjects on the history, culture and structure of societies of African descent throughout the world, with special emphasis on those of the United States and the Caribbean. The purpose of the concentration is to allow students to focus critical and analytic attention on issues of concern to black communities of the Western hemisphere, to allow students to gain a wider appreciation of the dynamic nature of those communities, and to assist students to understand the historical, humanistic, political and social dimensions of ethnicity and race.

Concentration requirements: Four subjects, selected in consultation with the Concentration Advisor. A HASS Concentration may include only one subject that also counts toward the HASS Distribution Requirement. You may include more than one only if the additional subject will NOT count as a HASS Distribution subject in your degree audit.

The following subjects, offered by the various departments, programs and sections within the School of Humanities and Social Science, constitute the core of the African and African Diaspora Studies concentration:




21H.229 The Black Radical Tradition in America, HASS-H

21H.358 Colonialism in South Asian and African History, HASS-H

24.912J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies [21H.106J, 21L.008J, 21W.741J, WGS.190J], HASS-A/HASS-H, CI-H

STS.048 African Americans in Science, Technology, and Medicine, HASS-H

STS.088 Africa for Engineers, HASS-H, CI-H

STS.089 Technology and Innovation in Africa, HASS-H




21L.007 World Literatures, HASS-H, CI-H

21L.504J Race and Identity in American Literature [WGS.140J], HASS-H

21M.030 Introduction to World Music, HASS-A, CI-H

21M.226 Jazz, HASS-A,

21M.293 Music of Africa, HASS-A

21W.742J Writing About Race [WGS.231J], HASS-H, CI-H

24.912J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies [21H.106J, 21L.008J, 21W.741J, WGS.190J], HASS-A/HASS-H, CI-H

WGS.142 Narrative and Identity: Writing and Film by Contemporary Women of Color, HASS-H




17.523 Ethnic Conflict in World Politics, HASS-S

17.571 African Politics, HASS-S

24.908 Creole Languages and Caribbean Identities, HASS-S, CI-H

WGS.150 Gender, Power, Leadership, and the Workplace, HASS-S

WGS.225J The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender [21A.103J, STS.046J], HASS-S


This list is not exhaustive. Relevant subjects that are no longer offered and subjects with variable topics (such as “special subjects” or “selected topics” courses, for example) may also be counted at the discretion of the concentration advisor.

[ ] Jointly listed subjects


Additional information can be obtained from the Concentration Advisor:
Professor Sandy Alexandre, 14N-422, x3-4450 
Or from the SHASS Academic Administrator,
Andrea Wirth, 4-240, x3-4441