African American studies at Harvard University is not what it once was. Not only has the department endured the high-profile departures of Cornell West and Anthony Appiah, but it’s changed it’s name and its focus. It’s now called the department of African and African-American studies, and the change is more than semantic.
For years, scholars have argued that Black studies should refashion itself and focus more on the African, in order to understand the American. Now Harvard is making it official. And while some see new signs of life in this move, others are asking, who needs ethnic studies anyway? A conversation with two Harvard scholars. Defining the diaspora.
Evelynn Hammonds, historian of science , Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
Marcyliena Morgan, linguistic anthropologist, Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
Gerald Early, professor of English and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.