Student Presentations

Each spring, Africana Studies majors give Senior Presentations on a variety of topics to illustrate their research interests. Below are a few expositions made over the past few years.

Keesha Johnson

The Sociology of Knowledge: Colonialism, Tradition, and Culture in the Educational Policies of Togo and Benin 

AFS senior students presentations,  Keesha JohnsonRalph J. Bunche's biography on education, delves into the exploration of identity and cultural traditions of West Africa. Looking comparatively at how colonialism shaped education in a colony such as Dahomey to a mandated place like Togo in West Africa. What was the context in which he decided to fight for better education structures? Using the white man's burden approach to analyze aspects of language and music education, this project seeks to explore the African sociology of native education structures being included during colonialism and post colonialism. The inclusion of native education alongside European education forces new and old generations to be confident and embrace the old traditional ideals with the new.       


Katrina C. Broughton " Racial Democracy in Brazil"


DeonteDeonte Austin    

Reality Meets History: A Historical and Theoretical Perspective of Black Masculinity

Throughout history, the roles of African-American men have changed in the United States; however, from slavery to contemporary times, black masculinity has, in some ways, also remained stagnant. This paper will examine the development of black masculinity from slavery to the civil rights movement. My research will consider the importance of gender roles in African-American culture and how black male culture has been shaped by both internal and external forces. The purpose of this project is to explain the foundation and progression of black masculinity and to deconstruct linear views of masculinity

Robia Smith-Herman AFS

Robia A. Smith-Herman    

The Psychological Impact of Conflict on Child Soldiers in East Africa 

For my research project, I examined Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, and Sierra Leone and the conflicts that have been occurring in their respective countries for the past few decades. I looked at the psychological effects of the conflicts on children, especially the child soldiers and orphans. I argue that the support and rehabilitation programs that are currently in effect for these children are insufficient and must be reconstructed in order to prevent future generations from growing up in the conditions that these children are currently in.

AFS senior students presentations,  Paige Klunk

Paige L. Klunk    

 Leopold Senghor, a Colonized Intellectual: Political Implications for the Competition of Reggae, Hip hop, and Mbalax in Senegal

Highlighting Senegalese patriots' criticisms of Leopold    Senghor's postcolonial government, Frantz Fanon criticized western-  educated African elites, identifying them as colonized intellectuals.  Senghor believed the best way to develop his nation's identity was  in the arts, which included the modernization of Senegal's popular music mbalax. Senghor's Negritude-inspired political policy hoped to establish Senegal's musical identity in it.  Using the tools of ethnomusicology, this study aims to shed light on the larger issues of postcolonial policies in West Africa, using Fanon's critiques of western-educated African leaders like Senghor and the competition of mbalax, reggae, and hip hop in contemporary Senegal.

Wayne Chang     

The Black and White Achievement Gap: The Current Challenges in Urban Education and Reform Efforts

 Today, inequalities have a greater number of spurious causes. They are engrained in the foundations of institutionalized racism. This nation is polarized by opposite viewpoints along with a variety of different civil rights. This paper explains how the achievement gap is propelled within the urban education system, the challenges within the system and how there are school reform models that are overcoming those challenges. With close examination it will provide evidences that charter schools and other educational school reforms, such as Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) are paving the way in transforming low performance schools around closing the achievement gap.

AFS senior students presentations Aiesha Gary

Aiesha S. Gary     

Homosexuality in the African American Community 

 The denouncement and intolerance of homosexuality is not a  new phenomenon in the African American community, homophobia is said to be more prevalent in the African American community, and can possibly serve as a threat to the African American population specifically when looking at the HIV/AIDS crises (Lewis, 2003, p. 60). There are certain aspects of African American culture that contribute to the overwhelming denunciation of homosexuality; education, gender, religion, slavery, and cultural beliefs as they pertain to African American culture may be the cause of the high stigmatization of homosexuality in the African American community.

  NicholAFS students presentation Rosenberggas O. Rosenberger  

Enfant Terrible: Confronting Images of the    African "Other" in Dambudzo Marechera's Writing

  Dambudzo Marechera is an extreme individualist.  For him individual freedom   is of the  utmostimportance.  Marechera refuses to identify himself with any  race, culture, or nation, and as  such, it is difficult to place his writing within any of the preexisting categories of modern African literature (although this   has not stopped critics from attempting to do just this).  The result is the  centralization of misunderstanding as a trope in Marechera’s writing and,  even, his life as a whole.  It is my contention that Marechera’s status and  position as a separatist writer allowed him to produce critiques of the    postcolonial system free of the stigmas attached to those working within the   machine. Through this process Marechera is able to establish himself as the  “doppelganger whom, until [he] appeared, African literature had not yet met,”    (Veit-Wild 221).

Jermarco BennettAFS senior student presentations, Jermarco Bennett

Children's story: Hip Hop in the Classroom 

Administrators of inner city schools argue that children's negative behavior is a large reason why  children are not as successful in school; behavior such as fighting, stealing, bringing inappropriate items (guns, drugs, pornography), and low self-esteem. While exploring music's involvement in the classroom, I plan to argue that Hip Hop music can develop positive characteristics such as higher self esteem, behavior control, and pleasures in education. Hip Hop music comes from the inner city Bronx, New York that serves not only as an artistic outlet but equipment to teach children about the lives, histories, and accomplishments of their race and class.

Rachel L. Rutter

The Roots of Domestic Violence in African American Communities: A Legacy of Racism in the U.S.

African-American women experience intimate partner violence at rates 35% higher than white women and at rates 2.5 times higher than other races. These disparities disappear when one controls for the different community contexts of blacks and whites. The disparity results in large part, then, from inequalities in the housing market that both perpetuated and increased informal segregation, creating unfavorable environments in which African Americans must live and work. The current rates of domestic violence in African American communities result from historic inequalities that manifested themselves in the housing market, culturally-shaped conceptions of masculinity, and negative stereotypes about black women.