News

Mass. State Rep. Calls on University VP to Increase Transparency for Allston Multimodal Project

News

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow Made $1.1 Million in 2020, Financial Disclosures Show

News

Harvard Executive Vice President Katie Lapp To Step Down

News

81 Republican Lawmakers File Amicus Brief Supporting SFFA in Harvard Affirmative Action Lawsuit

News

Duke Senior’s Commencement Speech Appears to Plagiarize 2014 Address by Harvard Student

Afro-Am Studies Grows Under New Leadership

Inside the Departments first in a series on undergraduate departments

By Elizabeth J. Riemer, Rebecca M. Wand, and Anna D. Wilde

In 1989 the Afro-American Studies department had one tenured faculty member.

Student protesters insisted that the promise of the concentration created in 1969 had not been fulfilled, and they occupied University Hall demanding change.

Then-President Derek C. Bok and then-Acting Dean of the Faculty Henry Rosovsky, one of the original architects of the department, set about rebuilding the program which has adopted a high profile on campus in recent years and has received national recognition.

"I think they both felt this was one of the failures of their administration," says Professor of Sociology Orlando Patterson. "Bok put everything else aside. The two of them really saw that as the top of their priorities.

Their choice to rebuild Afro-American Studies at Harvard was DuBois Professor of the Humanities Henry Louis Gates Jr., who took charge of the department in 1990.

Since then, Afro-American Studies at Harvard seems to have earned the academic legitimacy that it has sometimes lacked in the past: Professors and concentrators see an open, exciting and friendly department with the celebrity cache of visitors like Spike Lee.

And it has attracted more concentrators: The number, now 49, has nearly doubled since the rebuilding began only two years ago.

The department now has seven members including four tenured faculty members, two assistant professors and a lecturer. Only two, Cabot Professor of English Literature Werner Sollors and Lecturer ARTMENTCatherine Clinton, were in the department before Gates' 1991 arrival.

In 1990, DuBois Professor of the Humanities Henry Louis Gates Jr. came to Harvard to create a department where only one tenured faculty member remained. Today, although not all agree with his vision, few deny he is presiding over the...

"I think it's basically thought he's doing a superb job in rebuilding the department, which has been below its potential," says Gerald Jaynes, who chairs African-American Studies at Yale, where Gates was formerly a professor.

But some students and scholars of Afro-American studies at other schools question the department's, and Gates,' approach, which they say does not reflect all of the perspectives in the field.

Gates is building an interdisciplinary program grounded in a focus on "cultural studies," which draws on scholars from fields in the humanities and social sciences who have developed an expertise in Afro-American studies. Gates and Rosovsky mapped out the structure of the department in 1989, creating a blueprint similar to Rosovsky's original plan from 1969.

The result is a group of professors with varying academic backgrounds but similarities in approach, ideas and conceptions of what Afro-American Studies should be.

"Out outlooks are very similar... I definitely feel like we have a sense of shared mission," says Assistant Professor of English and Afro-American Studies Phillip Brian Harper. "I definitely see the direction shaped by Skip Gates' vision. I also think that's a vision all of us share."

It is an open department, as well, with junior professors made aware of changes and plans to an extent some say is unusual in Harvard's hierarchical system.

"It's tremendously congenial group of people," says Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Afro-American Studies J. Lorand Matory '82 says. "I feel as much at the center of it as many senior scholars do."

Central to the Harvard department's method is its multidisciplinary focus. Gates' own background is largely in literature, as are Harper's and Sollors.'

Matory was appointed in Anthropology and Afro-American Studies, John F. Kain is Professor of Economics and Afro-American Studies and Appiah's grounding is in philosophy.

And the growth is far from over. According to the Rosovsky-Gates 1989 plans, Gates says the department will make five more appointments within the next few years.

Joint appointments in comparative literature, music, social sciences, history and art are all planned, as well as the arrival of Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, a specialist in religious history who will join the department next year.

"I say these things to myself like a mantra," says Gates of the planned professorships.

Students of Afro-American Studies say they feel the concentration is developing in a positive direction, adding that since the department is still relatively small, there is a personal feeling between concentrators and faculty, Afro-American Studies also has no graduate program, making undergraduates even more central.

"The department is in a period of development, and any time a department goes through a period of development it's bound to frustrate some with going too slow and frighten some with going too fast," says Ian. H. Solomon '94, who is concentrating in Afro-American Studies.

The principal example of input from below changing the concentration's direction came last October, when students told a visiting committee the department needs a more significant commitment to the social sciences.

Roger A. Fairfax '94 says that the department's lack of social science offerings forces many students to go outside the department to get what they need.

"The key is to hire faculty members. If you bring in faculty members they will be able to pursue their own interest like government or economics," he says.

"I feel the need to be a joint concentrator because of the lack of offerings in the social sciences," Fairfax says.

There are not as many social science classes as I would like," says E. Franklin Miller '94, a joint concentrator with Government. "A lot of Afro-American Studies as it is now doesn't apply to a lot of the issues facing Afrcian Americans today."

Kain chairs a committee which is exploring the question of a greater commitment to the social sciences and current political issues, and Appiah says he is sure some change will result.

Other students say the information presented in the Afro-American studies curriculum inherently requires the discussion of a lot of controversial social issues.

"If it's an Afro-Am class the subject matter is very controversial," says Kaiama L. Glover '94, an Afro-Amercan Studies and History and Literature concentrator. "People insert a lot of social issues that they wouldn't if evaluating texts in other classes. It adds to the intensity.

"There are few calm discussions of sentence structure in Afro-Am," adds Glover. "There's always going to be an issue of social or historical context."

In addition to added social science offerings, many students wish they could discuss more current issues in their classes.

"It's important to study the past in order to gain direction for the future and it is also important to study things we can directly apply to the challenges facing the African-American community at this time," says Angie C. Roberts '94, who says she is very happy with the concentration overall.

Megan E. Colligan '95, a joint concentrator in U.S. History, agrees. "It would be better if they concentrated more on current issues," she say. "I have never gotten to discuss L.A. or segregation versus integration. Those issues are at the forefront." She stresses, however, the overall strength of the department and the quality of teaching.

But far more charged than the desire for more exploration of sociological topics are calls for a political voice akin to that of activists who taught in the early 70s and for a different academic approach, with a more "Afrocentric" slant to class offerings and departmental view points.

"The concentrators are more political than the professors," says Glover. "The major issue that the department has to address is the fact that people expect professors to be political and a lot of the professors are attempting to attack material with less of the rhetoric."

In the field of Afro-American Studies, there is a divide between a so-called "Afrocentric" focus and what Afrocentrists call a "Eurocentric" one.

The issue is a complex one: some call Afrocentric any approach which explores the role of African culture and history in the context of other parts of the globe.

But the most commonly accepted use of the term refers to a body of scholarship and ideology that places Africa at the center of ancient and modern civilization and seeks to explore civilization from a uniquely African perspective.

"We study the whole world-African community in its relationship to others," says Maulana Karenga, who chairs the Department of Black Studies at California State University, North Ridge and is a prominant proponent of Afrocentrism.

He says his conception of Afrocentricity offers an "alternative culture paradigm" to the Eurocentricity of much Western knowledge.

Some students expressed concern about the lack of such an Afrocentric perspective in the department.

"I think at one time people were frustrated with it," says Tracy K. Smith '94, "Some people said they wanted more nationalist texts and more Afrocentric stuff," she says, noting that Harper offered a seminar with nationalist issues this year.

Solomon says he has no problem with the political balance in the department. "The very act of teaching Afro-American studies is political," he says. "The department is political but not polemic or dogmatic. One of the strengths of the department is its determination to stay away from racial ideologies."

"It's quite obvious that Professor Gates, Professor Appiah ... [and others] would not put themselves in the Afrocentrist ideology," Solomon says. "The faculty may lack a professor with that bent, but I don't think that has detracted from my experience. I think it lends more legitimacy."

The department's academic focus is "cultural studies," a broadly defined academic approach which explores the role of ethnicity and ethnic identity in shaping such categories of identification as gender and economic status and in determining the characteristics of a group or a society, according to Appiah.

The effect of European and African cultures in forming uniquely African-American forms of expression in language or music fits within this approach, as well as a comparative examination of African-American cultures in various settings versus African societies or other American subcultures.

But Molefi Kete Asante, who chairs the Temple University Department of African American Studies, and Karenga both say the lack of Afrocentrist scholars at Harvard or other schools in the Ivy League does not reflect the national scholarship in Afro-American studies.

"Many times in the Ivy League [Afro-American Studies professors] talk to each other. All of them are outside the margins in this particular field," Asante says.

And both question the validity of the Harvard department's system of multidisciplinary joint appointments.

"What Harvard has done is to get some very important people, significant thinkers. They just happen to not be in Black Studies," says Asante.

Asante and Karenga question the academic approach of the department on intellectual grounds.

"I think that Appiah and Gates...both do European studies of African people," Asante says, with Harvard's scholars seeing African people as "objects, as marginal."

"I don't know of one single person who would identify as an Afrocentrist" [in the Harvard Afro-American Studies department]," Harper says.

"This perspective is not the ruling paradigm here," according to Matory.

At its most extreme, Patterson says, Afrocentrism can verge into a nationalistic and exclusive ideology.

"To insist that you only see things from a Black point of view, that's chauvinistic verging on racist," he says. "I feel very strongly this is part of a substitute for genuine critical scholarship, replete with ideology."

Appiah too, while offering Afrocentrist perspectives in his Afro-American Studies tutorial, says Afrocentrism in the "New York Times, sensationalistic sense, is a body of work for which I don't have a great deal of respect."

And other professors say it can degenerate into an uncritical "cheerleading" for all things African.

But both Patterson and Appiah say it would be unfair to dismiss all Afrocentric scholarship as unfair or illegitimate.

Harvard's Afro-American Studies professors have varying responses proper role of Afrocentrism and differing answers to how inclusive the the department should make itself to its ideas.

Matory says an evenhanded study of Afrocentric texts and approaches in the context of classes can be valuable.

"I con imagine a professor in this department using books from that canon critically to study Afrocentrism itself critically," he says. "I know some students are genuinely quite prepared to criticize naive assumptions."

Appiah agrees with that way of answering the question and says the department would have no problem tenuring someone with an Afrocentric focus if he or she were the best professor for a position.

"Someone's holding that position wouldn't count against them, but they'd have to meet certain scholarly standards," he said. He does not feel Harvard's concentration needs to "represent every socially significant political and cultural perspective," he says.

Professors acknowledge a student desire for slightly less unanimity of vision on some issues.

"If you have a somewhat militant view, certain professors will listen and will let your opinions be heard, but there is a feeling that if you do not think as they do you will grow out of it," says Lisa D. Ellis '94, an Afro-American Studies concentrator.

Another question, closely linked both to a desire for Afrocentric dialogue and the call for greater social science coverage, is that of a political articulation for the department itself.

As a department born of activism, one which had for years a pronounced political slant and voice through its chair, Afro-American Studies is under unique pressures to manifest an outlook, to students and colleagues.

Some students today say that the department should assert itself more politically.

"Last year when [City University of New York Professor Leonard] Jeffries came the faculty of the Afro-Am department didn't' come out one way or another,' says Rashida K. LaLande '95. "It never occured to us at the time, but looking back it would have been nice to have some support from the faculty."

Gates says the pressure to enter the arena of campus politics definitely exists. He himself, through columns in national publications, has become a national figure in debates on race relations.

"Being a professor of Afro-American Studies and being Black is not like being a professor of Ango-Saxon literature in the English department," Gates says.

"We don't believe the department to have a political agenda," says Appiah.

Smith says that the department is inherently political but points out that many departments are. "The people who challenge ethnic studies for being political seem to think that history and other departments aren't political, but I think that's a fallacy."

"Afro-Am is not political in the sense that we're all being indoctrinated," Smith says. "In Afro-Am, voices and perspectives are political."

Monica A. Coleman '95 says that, although concentrators and faculty do express political views, the department is primarily academic. "Gates has a political stance, and each person in the department has stance," he says. "There's a lot of political discourse at concentrators' meetings."

Smith says that the department's varied perspectives among students and faculty work in its favor. "There's definitely people in the department with different stances. I don't think it's the department's role to carry the banner of one doctrine," she says. "It's fortunate that there's a broad spectrum."

Afro-American Studies professors at Harvard also stress the importance of equal accessibility of the discipline to scholars of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Marc D. Zenlanko '95 also says that being white in the concentration presents no problems. "It's an academic department so they treat me as a scholar, not as a white, Jewish boy," he says.

But some say in the search for diversity of concentrators, the department has lost some focus on Black students in the major.

"A lot of the Black concentrators are very discouraged with the department because in an attempt to make Afro-Am a valid study or concentration they get as many non-African Americans concetrators, which is well and good but in the process they have ignored many of the African American concentrators," Ellis says. "The department heads feel that the only way it would be valid is if non-African-American students were interested in it."

But despite the political and academic conflicts shaped by the pressures in an issue as politicized as Afro-American Studies, the consensus at Harvard that Gates heads a department on the rise is real, and he and his colleagues say they welcome the disagreement and intellectual dispute.

"The idea there's monolithic Black community is ridiculous," says Gates. In his tutorial class he and students "did battle every week."

"That's the way it should be," he says. "It's about constrained disagreement."

The department is political but not polemic or dogmatic. One of the strength of the department is its determination top stay away from racial ideologies;

Ian H. Soloman '94 Afro-American Students Concentrator.

'Our outlooks are very similar... I definitely see the direction shaped by Skip Gates' vision. I also think that's a vision all of us share.'

Phillip Brian Harper assistant professor of English and Afro-American StudiesCrimsonPhotographerHENRY LOUIS GATES Jr.

In 1990, DuBois Professor of the Humanities Henry Louis Gates Jr. came to Harvard to create a department where only one tenured faculty member remained. Today, although not all agree with his vision, few deny he is presiding over the...

"I think it's basically thought he's doing a superb job in rebuilding the department, which has been below its potential," says Gerald Jaynes, who chairs African-American Studies at Yale, where Gates was formerly a professor.

But some students and scholars of Afro-American studies at other schools question the department's, and Gates,' approach, which they say does not reflect all of the perspectives in the field.

Gates is building an interdisciplinary program grounded in a focus on "cultural studies," which draws on scholars from fields in the humanities and social sciences who have developed an expertise in Afro-American studies. Gates and Rosovsky mapped out the structure of the department in 1989, creating a blueprint similar to Rosovsky's original plan from 1969.

The result is a group of professors with varying academic backgrounds but similarities in approach, ideas and conceptions of what Afro-American Studies should be.

"Out outlooks are very similar... I definitely feel like we have a sense of shared mission," says Assistant Professor of English and Afro-American Studies Phillip Brian Harper. "I definitely see the direction shaped by Skip Gates' vision. I also think that's a vision all of us share."

It is an open department, as well, with junior professors made aware of changes and plans to an extent some say is unusual in Harvard's hierarchical system.

"It's tremendously congenial group of people," says Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Afro-American Studies J. Lorand Matory '82 says. "I feel as much at the center of it as many senior scholars do."

Central to the Harvard department's method is its multidisciplinary focus. Gates' own background is largely in literature, as are Harper's and Sollors.'

Matory was appointed in Anthropology and Afro-American Studies, John F. Kain is Professor of Economics and Afro-American Studies and Appiah's grounding is in philosophy.

And the growth is far from over. According to the Rosovsky-Gates 1989 plans, Gates says the department will make five more appointments within the next few years.

Joint appointments in comparative literature, music, social sciences, history and art are all planned, as well as the arrival of Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, a specialist in religious history who will join the department next year.

"I say these things to myself like a mantra," says Gates of the planned professorships.

Students of Afro-American Studies say they feel the concentration is developing in a positive direction, adding that since the department is still relatively small, there is a personal feeling between concentrators and faculty, Afro-American Studies also has no graduate program, making undergraduates even more central.

"The department is in a period of development, and any time a department goes through a period of development it's bound to frustrate some with going too slow and frighten some with going too fast," says Ian. H. Solomon '94, who is concentrating in Afro-American Studies.

The principal example of input from below changing the concentration's direction came last October, when students told a visiting committee the department needs a more significant commitment to the social sciences.

Roger A. Fairfax '94 says that the department's lack of social science offerings forces many students to go outside the department to get what they need.

"The key is to hire faculty members. If you bring in faculty members they will be able to pursue their own interest like government or economics," he says.

"I feel the need to be a joint concentrator because of the lack of offerings in the social sciences," Fairfax says.

There are not as many social science classes as I would like," says E. Franklin Miller '94, a joint concentrator with Government. "A lot of Afro-American Studies as it is now doesn't apply to a lot of the issues facing Afrcian Americans today."

Kain chairs a committee which is exploring the question of a greater commitment to the social sciences and current political issues, and Appiah says he is sure some change will result.

Other students say the information presented in the Afro-American studies curriculum inherently requires the discussion of a lot of controversial social issues.

"If it's an Afro-Am class the subject matter is very controversial," says Kaiama L. Glover '94, an Afro-Amercan Studies and History and Literature concentrator. "People insert a lot of social issues that they wouldn't if evaluating texts in other classes. It adds to the intensity.

"There are few calm discussions of sentence structure in Afro-Am," adds Glover. "There's always going to be an issue of social or historical context."

In addition to added social science offerings, many students wish they could discuss more current issues in their classes.

"It's important to study the past in order to gain direction for the future and it is also important to study things we can directly apply to the challenges facing the African-American community at this time," says Angie C. Roberts '94, who says she is very happy with the concentration overall.

Megan E. Colligan '95, a joint concentrator in U.S. History, agrees. "It would be better if they concentrated more on current issues," she say. "I have never gotten to discuss L.A. or segregation versus integration. Those issues are at the forefront." She stresses, however, the overall strength of the department and the quality of teaching.

But far more charged than the desire for more exploration of sociological topics are calls for a political voice akin to that of activists who taught in the early 70s and for a different academic approach, with a more "Afrocentric" slant to class offerings and departmental view points.

"The concentrators are more political than the professors," says Glover. "The major issue that the department has to address is the fact that people expect professors to be political and a lot of the professors are attempting to attack material with less of the rhetoric."

In the field of Afro-American Studies, there is a divide between a so-called "Afrocentric" focus and what Afrocentrists call a "Eurocentric" one.

The issue is a complex one: some call Afrocentric any approach which explores the role of African culture and history in the context of other parts of the globe.

But the most commonly accepted use of the term refers to a body of scholarship and ideology that places Africa at the center of ancient and modern civilization and seeks to explore civilization from a uniquely African perspective.

"We study the whole world-African community in its relationship to others," says Maulana Karenga, who chairs the Department of Black Studies at California State University, North Ridge and is a prominant proponent of Afrocentrism.

He says his conception of Afrocentricity offers an "alternative culture paradigm" to the Eurocentricity of much Western knowledge.

Some students expressed concern about the lack of such an Afrocentric perspective in the department.

"I think at one time people were frustrated with it," says Tracy K. Smith '94, "Some people said they wanted more nationalist texts and more Afrocentric stuff," she says, noting that Harper offered a seminar with nationalist issues this year.

Solomon says he has no problem with the political balance in the department. "The very act of teaching Afro-American studies is political," he says. "The department is political but not polemic or dogmatic. One of the strengths of the department is its determination to stay away from racial ideologies."

"It's quite obvious that Professor Gates, Professor Appiah ... [and others] would not put themselves in the Afrocentrist ideology," Solomon says. "The faculty may lack a professor with that bent, but I don't think that has detracted from my experience. I think it lends more legitimacy."

The department's academic focus is "cultural studies," a broadly defined academic approach which explores the role of ethnicity and ethnic identity in shaping such categories of identification as gender and economic status and in determining the characteristics of a group or a society, according to Appiah.

The effect of European and African cultures in forming uniquely African-American forms of expression in language or music fits within this approach, as well as a comparative examination of African-American cultures in various settings versus African societies or other American subcultures.

But Molefi Kete Asante, who chairs the Temple University Department of African American Studies, and Karenga both say the lack of Afrocentrist scholars at Harvard or other schools in the Ivy League does not reflect the national scholarship in Afro-American studies.

"Many times in the Ivy League [Afro-American Studies professors] talk to each other. All of them are outside the margins in this particular field," Asante says.

And both question the validity of the Harvard department's system of multidisciplinary joint appointments.

"What Harvard has done is to get some very important people, significant thinkers. They just happen to not be in Black Studies," says Asante.

Asante and Karenga question the academic approach of the department on intellectual grounds.

"I think that Appiah and Gates...both do European studies of African people," Asante says, with Harvard's scholars seeing African people as "objects, as marginal."

"I don't know of one single person who would identify as an Afrocentrist" [in the Harvard Afro-American Studies department]," Harper says.

"This perspective is not the ruling paradigm here," according to Matory.

At its most extreme, Patterson says, Afrocentrism can verge into a nationalistic and exclusive ideology.

"To insist that you only see things from a Black point of view, that's chauvinistic verging on racist," he says. "I feel very strongly this is part of a substitute for genuine critical scholarship, replete with ideology."

Appiah too, while offering Afrocentrist perspectives in his Afro-American Studies tutorial, says Afrocentrism in the "New York Times, sensationalistic sense, is a body of work for which I don't have a great deal of respect."

And other professors say it can degenerate into an uncritical "cheerleading" for all things African.

But both Patterson and Appiah say it would be unfair to dismiss all Afrocentric scholarship as unfair or illegitimate.

Harvard's Afro-American Studies professors have varying responses proper role of Afrocentrism and differing answers to how inclusive the the department should make itself to its ideas.

Matory says an evenhanded study of Afrocentric texts and approaches in the context of classes can be valuable.

"I con imagine a professor in this department using books from that canon critically to study Afrocentrism itself critically," he says. "I know some students are genuinely quite prepared to criticize naive assumptions."

Appiah agrees with that way of answering the question and says the department would have no problem tenuring someone with an Afrocentric focus if he or she were the best professor for a position.

"Someone's holding that position wouldn't count against them, but they'd have to meet certain scholarly standards," he said. He does not feel Harvard's concentration needs to "represent every socially significant political and cultural perspective," he says.

Professors acknowledge a student desire for slightly less unanimity of vision on some issues.

"If you have a somewhat militant view, certain professors will listen and will let your opinions be heard, but there is a feeling that if you do not think as they do you will grow out of it," says Lisa D. Ellis '94, an Afro-American Studies concentrator.

Another question, closely linked both to a desire for Afrocentric dialogue and the call for greater social science coverage, is that of a political articulation for the department itself.

As a department born of activism, one which had for years a pronounced political slant and voice through its chair, Afro-American Studies is under unique pressures to manifest an outlook, to students and colleagues.

Some students today say that the department should assert itself more politically.

"Last year when [City University of New York Professor Leonard] Jeffries came the faculty of the Afro-Am department didn't' come out one way or another,' says Rashida K. LaLande '95. "It never occured to us at the time, but looking back it would have been nice to have some support from the faculty."

Gates says the pressure to enter the arena of campus politics definitely exists. He himself, through columns in national publications, has become a national figure in debates on race relations.

"Being a professor of Afro-American Studies and being Black is not like being a professor of Ango-Saxon literature in the English department," Gates says.

"We don't believe the department to have a political agenda," says Appiah.

Smith says that the department is inherently political but points out that many departments are. "The people who challenge ethnic studies for being political seem to think that history and other departments aren't political, but I think that's a fallacy."

"Afro-Am is not political in the sense that we're all being indoctrinated," Smith says. "In Afro-Am, voices and perspectives are political."

Monica A. Coleman '95 says that, although concentrators and faculty do express political views, the department is primarily academic. "Gates has a political stance, and each person in the department has stance," he says. "There's a lot of political discourse at concentrators' meetings."

Smith says that the department's varied perspectives among students and faculty work in its favor. "There's definitely people in the department with different stances. I don't think it's the department's role to carry the banner of one doctrine," she says. "It's fortunate that there's a broad spectrum."

Afro-American Studies professors at Harvard also stress the importance of equal accessibility of the discipline to scholars of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Marc D. Zenlanko '95 also says that being white in the concentration presents no problems. "It's an academic department so they treat me as a scholar, not as a white, Jewish boy," he says.

But some say in the search for diversity of concentrators, the department has lost some focus on Black students in the major.

"A lot of the Black concentrators are very discouraged with the department because in an attempt to make Afro-Am a valid study or concentration they get as many non-African Americans concetrators, which is well and good but in the process they have ignored many of the African American concentrators," Ellis says. "The department heads feel that the only way it would be valid is if non-African-American students were interested in it."

But despite the political and academic conflicts shaped by the pressures in an issue as politicized as Afro-American Studies, the consensus at Harvard that Gates heads a department on the rise is real, and he and his colleagues say they welcome the disagreement and intellectual dispute.

"The idea there's monolithic Black community is ridiculous," says Gates. In his tutorial class he and students "did battle every week."

"That's the way it should be," he says. "It's about constrained disagreement."

The department is political but not polemic or dogmatic. One of the strength of the department is its determination top stay away from racial ideologies;

Ian H. Soloman '94 Afro-American Students Concentrator.

'Our outlooks are very similar... I definitely see the direction shaped by Skip Gates' vision. I also think that's a vision all of us share.'

Phillip Brian Harper assistant professor of English and Afro-American StudiesCrimsonPhotographerHENRY LOUIS GATES Jr.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags