Director's Welcome

Welcome to the website of the African & African Diaspora Studies Program (AADS) at Florida International University.


Significant global transformations are being driven by and affecting persons of African descent. The fundamental focus of the African and African Diaspora Studies program at FIU is to engage with these transformations, to analyze them, to discuss them, to research them, to publicize them, and to train a cadre of scholars, both graduate and undergraduate, for careers that interact with these transformations. Our program deals with the disparate social formations of persons of African Descent across geographic and national boundaries. Included in this is analysis of the socio-economic and cultural constructions of the societies and communities in which such persons live. While our substantive focus is to apply an international comparative approach to the life conditions and social formations of persons of African descent in all their social geographies, our work, in its broader context, informs an understanding of racial and ethnic formations. This is warranted by the different and changing historical and socio-ecological manifestations (social productions) of diasporic reality. It is also warranted by the sheer numbers of persons of African Descent worldwide. "Diaspora Studies" informs the understanding of any population that is racially or ethnically defined and whose presences in various parts of the world have acted to change significantly their sense of identity and peoplehood. While, in our focus on African Diaspora studies, we concentrate specifically upon persons of African descent, our teaching, research and scholarship are applicable, equally, to any "diasporic" population. The rationale for our intellectual engagement is that there are generalizable conditions that apply to persons of African descent, wherever they may find themselves. These conditions pertain to the international and national division of race, the implications of colonialism and European capitalist expansion, international migration and its effect upon the home and host societies and communities. Central to our concern is the universal role of race in the organization of political economy (both national and international) and in class formation. Our scholarship is particularly important to an understanding United States constituted, from its inception, by diasporic populations from around the world, organized and socially constituted for pre-capitalist and capitalist global formation.

We have embarked on expanding, significantly, our teaching agenda through the reformulation of our M.A. degree that now can be taken fully online. Our on-site M.A. continues to be combined with four M.A.Ph.D programs in conjunction with History, Global and Sociocultural Studies, International Relations and Political Science. We are actively engaged in efforts to combine our M.A. degree with other professional disciplines and to seek out new M.A./Ph.D. combined degrees with other departments. To these efforts, we are adding an increased emphasis on research. Examples of our current effort include a project on HIV in the Caribbean, on Black presences in Miami, and on the reformulation and respecification of regional relations in the Caribbean and Latin America. We are also actively engaged with the development of relations with universities and research institutions in countries and regions with significant black presences. We are particularly engaged in efforts to expand our scholarly footprint in Africa and are building upon the foundation created by a previous U.S. Department of Education Title VI UISFL Grant to do so. We are also very much at the forefront of development of scholarship in the field of Afro-Latino Studies and are significantly involved in the field of Caribbean Studies.

Engagement with Southern Florida is central and critical to our mission. We collaborate with public, private, and community-based organizations and individuals in our effort to fulfill the charge of Florida International University to service the needs of the social-geography of which we are part, and we are making strides in expanding our activities and commitment. We would like to encourage you to visit our website and to engage with the numerous lectures, conferences, colloquia Roundtables, performances, exhibits and other activities that we host throughout the year dedicated to the histories and contributions of peoples of African descent to the modern world.

Thank you for your interest,

Dr. Valerie L. Patterson, Director