African American Studies: The Future of the Discipline

Molefi Kete Asante
The Black Scholar (1992)

Source: The Black Scholar 22 (Summer 1992): 20-29.


To the Ancestors in whose path I walk and the Elders whose son I am I give thanks for being invited to participate in this historic conference.

It is my intention to discuss the maintenance and future of African American Studies within the context of contemporary intellectual ideas. I will begin, of course, where I always begin, with a discussion of Afrocentricity as a theoretical instrument for the examination of phenomena. Afrocentricity is a simple idea. The reason that I know it is simple is because I have yet to meet a person on the streets of North Philadelphia who could not understand it. I also know it is simple because I have met a lot of Africans and Europeans in the Academy who deliberately misunderstand it. At its base it is concerned with African people being subjects of historical and social experiences rather than objects in the margins in European experiences. I recall seeing the book by Charles Wesley and Carter Woodson entitled The Negro In Our History and feeling that they were truly speaking from and to a Eurocentric perspective if they felt that such a title captured the essence of our experience. These were two of the most successful African American historians and yet they could not totally disengage their critical thinking from the traditional views held by whites. Viewing phenomena from the perspective of Africans as central rather than peripheral means that you secure a better vantage point on the facts. It also means that you have a better handle on your own theoretical and philosophical bases.

It is not a biological issue, anybody can see if they have the right vantage point. There are two aspects to Afrocentricity, the theory and the practice. One could master the theory and not be involved in the practice or vice versa. In my case, I have tried to merge the two aspects in my intellectual work and lifestyle. Of course, if one is not culturally African, that is, if one does not possess the historical and social memories that constitute Africanity, and practices Afrocentricity as a life style it would be strange although it is possible, just as weird and possible as Africans who have adopted Eurocentric styles.

Dislocation, location and relocation are the principal calling cards of the Afrocentric theoretical position. My attempt is always to locate a situation, an event, an author. I have identified through historical and literary analysis two fallacies of position: the locational fallacy and the linguistic fallacy. The first occurs when a person is de-centered, misoriented, or disoriented and cannot possibly be looking from the proper angle. This is the problem Malcolm X recognized when he spoke of some enslaved Africans thinking they had come to America on the Mayflower or when he told us that there some who took the slavemaster's perspective when it came to the plantation. Such people are not only dislocated but disoriented. The second fallacy occurs when a person is located in the proper place but does not have the experience or the ability to explain or to describe what is being seen. The second fallacy leads to a sort of naive nationalism because the viewer has only a vantage point but no adequate discipline or skill for analysis. Both types of persons bound in the academy.

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The Nature of Cr˛ticism

The critics of Afrocentricity fall into two classes, those who are simply opposed to any African selfdetermination and those who favor African self-determination within the framework of European experiences. Africans and Europeans occupy places in each category of those who have attacked the theoretical position staked out by a growing number of Afrocentric theorists. There are Marxists, liberals, reactionaries and various apologists for white racism in both groups. Recently Anne Wortham, the "colored" sociologist as she referred to herself at a symposium "Education and Afrocentrism" organized by the Heritage Foundation, went so far as to say that Afrocentricity was much like Nazism because it articulated a cultural viewpoint. I could not tell from listening to her on C-SPAN whether she actually believed that Afrocentricity was like Nazism or was doing as the late Louis Lomax once said some blacks do, "fooling white people." She could have received nothing from my works, which she attempted to discuss, to lead her to such a silly conclusion. There is nothing in the form or substance of Afrocentricity that is like Nazism.

In an opposing lecture from the left, Harold Cruse, in a major address on Afrocentricity at Temple University, said it was like Marxism in its transformative potential. Cruse saw the meta-theoretical possibilities of the idea extending to the psychological, cultural, and economic recovery of African people for ourselves. His criticism of the idea was essentially around the abstract nature of the metatheory. He kept asking, where is the practice? This is a legitimate question to ask of any Africalogical theory. The answer in African American Studies at Temple is the doctoral program itself, a product of Afrocentric theory and practice. Of course, Diane Ravitch, William Raspberry, Henry Gates, Manning Marable, Michele Wallace, Orlando Patterson, Arthur Schlesinger, Glenn Loury, George Wills, and other less well known lights have had something to say about Afrocentricity. Much of what many of them have had to say is a result not of reading or quoting my works but of responding to a popular cachet. Let me add that these are not all individuals of the same quality or insight.

I shall attempt to clarify several points with reference to Afrocentricity and the future of African American Studies or Africology. Let me start with a rather broad statement that, in a white supremacist environment, you are either for white supremacy or against it. There is no middle ground for the intellectual in an oppressive society. White supremacy is not just a sociological or political theory or ideology, it is also a literary project in the sense of the Great Books of the Western World as described by Mortimer J. Adler and William Buckley. One hundred and thirty authors and not one African American is included, not even an African who sees herself or himself on the margins of the European experience. To an Afrocentrist, of course, some things are predictable within the context of a white supremacist society. Let me state a less broad proposition, the institutions of a society will most often reflect the dominant political hegemony of the society. A racist political structure will give you racist institutions; a Marxist political structure will give you Marxist institutions, and so forth.

The Lack of Clarity

To object to Afrocentricity, a fundamental stepping stone to any multicultural project, as an effort to marginalize African Americans is to criticize amiss. The aim, that is, the purpose, o£ centered positions which contribute to the multicultural discussion is to bring about harmony within society. Otherwise what one gets is an off-white contribution to the pale white stream. A better option is always to contribute the richness of the African American, the Latino, the Asian, the Native American, and the European to the common purpose. But there is no rnainstream; this is a misnomer. Those who speak of the mainstream are often speaking about a white stream with African eddies bubbling on the side. Whatever the word "mainstream" means it has rarely included Africans. And those who use the term do not

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think of African American poetry or people as being mainstream. Those who speak of "mainstreams" and "universals" are most often speaking of whites. And therefore when someone says "universal man" it is not simply a rejection of women but of the Mandinka, the Zulu, the Hmong, the Yaqui, the African American. Yet there really are only tributaries and our cultural flow is a part of the grand delta of ideas.

The opposition to racism is not abstract, it is concrete. In our present social, economic, and intellectual condition the resistance to white supremacy is not black supremacy but pluralism without hierarchy, a frightening idea in the context of the long white domination of ideas. Manning Marable has developed a similar thesis in his book How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America. Afrocentricity is not a black version of Eurocentricity, which is an arrogant imposition of a particular view as if it is a universal view. Such a position is ethnocentric and leads to racism when it is enforced by custom, law, or physical force. It degrades other views and valorizes the European viewpoint.

The African American Studies Idea

My thesis is simply stated. During the past twenty or so years since the establishment of African American Studies, two major changes have occurred in the American Academy in reference to African American Studies which have altered the academic landscape for years to come. The first was institutionalization of African American Studies, Africology, as a discipline alongside other disciplines within the Academy. The second was the creation and mounting of the first doctoral program in African American Studies in the nation at Temple University. The first transformed the student movement of the 1960s into a concrete reality in academic units as well as in theories and methods. The second transcended the parochial and provincial role which had been assigned to the field by keepers of the Academy. What were the characteristics that manifested themselves in this flowering of a new intellectual reality?

I am a child of the Black Studies Movement, having been born to it in the late night and early morning labors of love and emotion that saw young men and women at UCLA, members of the Harambee Club, and later SNCC-UCLA of which I was chair, totally absorbed in the creation of the new, the novel, the radical. The processes by which the curricula documents were produced by African American students in the late 1960s and early 70s were unknown in the history of the creation of academic fields and very few of us at that time had any real idea what the future would bring. We knew that curricula were to universities what oxygen is to the lungs. Curricula were inseparable from the concept of the university, just as lungs and breathing could not be separated from the inhaling and exhaling of oxygen. With the curricula changes there would have to be fundamental changes in the institution. We knew this, it now seems, instinctively because the few African American professors who were on those campuses; often had not been there long or could not give us advice. As the first permanent director of the UCLA Center for Afro American Studies I wrote the interdisciplinary M.A. program and in 1969 started, along with Robert Singleton, who had been an interim director at the Center, the Journal of Black Studies. We knew then, as most of you knew, that Black Studies was not the mere aggregation of courses about our experiences but had tobe courses taught from what we called at the time "the black perspective." In our rush to establish the perspective, we even demanded that only black teachers teach in the programs until we discovered that perspective is not a biological issue. Some of the black professors taught from a white perspective. It is from this reality that I shall attempt to answer the question posed above regarding the nature of disciplinary transformations, their characteristics, and future.

The Context of Discipline Development

African American Studies is a discrete discipline with certain critical perspectives, theories, and methods which are necessary for


its role in discovery and understanding. Inherent in this statement is the radical idea that African Americans are largely responsible for producing the only new discipline in the social sciences and humanities in the last fifty years. The attendant propositions suggest creativity, innovation, genius, and authority in disciplines. Assaults on Africology as a discipline, as we shall see, are nothing more than attacks based upon the idea that African Americans can neither create theories nor disciplines, and are ultimately the same tune played in previous discussions of African intelligence. A number of books, such as George Mosse's A History of Racism in Europe, Michael Bradley's The Ice Man Inheritance, and Stephen J. Gould's The Mismeasure of Man, exist on this subject. When this tune is played by Africans themselves it is often the result of dislocation, that is, the assumption of the place where Africans have been pushed by white racial hegemony in the Academy. In such situations the African feels that he or she must act in ways much more correct (in the white sense) than even whites themselves. There is a felt pressure to be hard, as it were, on any African who raises the possibility of escape from the mental plantation. What I am saying is that it becomes necessary to suspend judgment or to kill one's traditional sensibilities so to speak in order to understand the language of the new reality, that is, Africans as subjects instead of objects in the European project. This is difficult to discern from the same tired portals of traditions which are rooted in the conquest of Africans by Europeans. Africology becomes a discipline whose mission is, inter alia, the critique of domination. Of course, there are implications for institutional and organizational issues in the disciplinary question. That is, whether or not departments are more valuable in the maintenance of the discipline than programs in which faculty members share joint appointments. There is also the issue of the symbolic meaning, as well as the political implication, of joint appointments. At Temple University it was to our advantage to share the same paradigm of power and structure as the other organized academic units. Thus, the department is the basic unit and all of our faculty have full appointments in the department.

To examine these issues I will discuss the principal areas of inquiry, the shape of the discipline, classificatory aspects of the discipline, and heuristics for methods.

Issues in Inquiry

I am not sure whether it is necessary any longer to debate the question of perspective in terms of the Africalogical discipline as had been the case during the past twenty years; at least, in the circle of scholars with whom I am associated it is pretty well agreed that the fundamental basis for Africology as a separate discipline is its unique perspective. Nevertheless, the ground is clearly established in the works of Linda James Myers, C. Tsehloane Keto, Maulana Karenga, Dona Richards, and Wade Nobles. Their arguments are expertly placed within the ongoing creative project of African liberation, now more than ever, an intellectual liberation.

The Afrocentric enterprise is framed by cosmological, epistemological, axiological, and aesthetic issues. In this regard the Afrocentric method pursues a world voice distinctly Africa-centered in relationship to external phenomena. I did not say distinctly African, which is another issue, but Africa-centered, a theoretical perspective.

Cosmological Issue

The place of African culture in the philosophy, myths, legends, literatures and oratures of African people constitutes, at the mythological level, the cosmological issue within the Afrocentric enterprise, which is an enterprise entirely consistent with the Africalogical discipline. What role does the African culture play in the African's interface with the cosmos? The debate over "African cultures or culture" is answered definitionally within the context of the Afrocentric perspective so I will not discuss it at this juncture, no more than to say that it has been dealt with in the writings of Afro-


centric scholars. For a discussion of this issue, one might see African Culture: The Rhythms of Unity edited by Asante and Asante.

Among the questions that might be dealt with under the cosmological umbrella is, What dramas of life and death, in the African tradition, are reflected in metaphysical metaphors? How are those dramas translated by lunar, solar, or stellar figures? The fundamental assumptions of Africalogical inquiry are based on the African orientation to the cosmos. By "African" I clearly mean a "composite African" not a specific discrete African ethnicity, which would rather mean African American, Yoruba, Ibo, Fulani, Zulu, Mandingo, Kikongo, etc. C. T. Keto has taken this up in his book Afrocentricity and History by writing that "African American thinkers were among the first to feel the need to create the concept 'composite' African and, in so doing their reference was the whole of the African continent which included, historically, ancient Kemet." (Keto, 1991 p. 5). He continues that "denied a precise ethnic linkage, they created a holistic African vision that . . . influenced Africans on the continent." (Keto, 1991, p. 5)

There are several concerns which might be considered cosmological in that they are fundamental frames for research initiatives in this discipline. I shall only make reference to them here and refer you to my recent book Kemet, Afrocentricity, and Knowledge, for greater commentary. The concerns are: Racial Formulation, Culture,Gender, and Class. Race as a social factor remains prevalent in heterogeneous but hegemonically Eurocentric societies. In the United States, the most developed example of such a society, the question of race is the most dominant aspect of intersocial relations. Cultural questions are usefully viewed in the context of shared perceptions, attitudes, and predispositions that allow communities of people to organize responses in similar ways. Gender also must be seen as a substantial research area in questions of social, political, economic, and cultural dimensions. Since the liberation of women is not an act of charity but a basic premise of the Afrocentric project, th researcher must be cognizant of sexist language, terminology, and perspectives. Class becomes for the Afrocentrist aware of our history, much more complicated than capitalists and workers, or bourgeoisie and proletariat. Finding the relevant class positions and places in given situations will assist the Africalogical scholar with analysis. Indeed, Eurocentrism with all of its potential for asserting its particular self as universal becomes the repository for race, class, and gender conflict. Rather than an isolated or isolatable discussion of race, or class, or gender one begins to view the dominant Eurocentric mythos as containing all of these elements.

Epistemological Issue

What constitutes the search for truth in the Afrocentric enterprise? In Africology, language, myth, ancestral memory, dance-music-art, and science provide the sources of knowledge, the canons of proof and the structure of truth.

Discussions of language from an Afrocentric perspective or research into African language, diasporan or continental, may lead to understanding about the nature of truth. Ebonics, the African American language, serves as the archetype of African American language in the United States. A variety of languages in Brazil, Ecuador,Colombia, Panama, and Belize serve this functions in other American communities. One of our students, for example, is centering her research on the Garifuna people of Belize. However, while her work will include much that is historical and linguistic, she is principally concerned with an epistemological question rooted in the inquiry on methods of retention as expressed in the declarative, as opposed to the cognitive culture, of the people.

The strong, expressive, inescapable myth of the African presence in America, indeed, in the world has value for the discovery of truth in many dimensions of human life. Thus, behind and in front of our banquet of possibilities are the refracting elements of myths which appropriately mediate our relationships. Knowing these myths, making a


habit of investigating them in a serious manner, allows the researcher to form new metaphors about our experiences. In dance-music-art, performing and representational art forms are central to interpretation of cultural and social reality. Our analysis is informed by the way dance is seen in African culture, even in the way we view the Africanization of the walkman.

Axiological Issue

The question of value is at the core of the Afrocentric quest for truth because ethical issues have always been connected to the advancement of the discipline. One cannot speak of Africology apart from its origin in the drive to humanize education, to democratize the curriculum, to advance the understanding of humanity. This is the birthright of the discipline more than any other discipline in the social sciences or humanities. What constitutes the good is a matter of historical conditions and cultural developments within a particular society. A common expression among us relates to the good and beautiful in this way, "beauty is as beauty does." We are also sure that a person "is beautiful because he or she is good." When a sister says, "that's a beautiful brother," she is usually meaning something more than his physical looks. Doing good is equivalent to being beautiful. The Afrocentric method isolates conduct and action in social or literary analysis. The aim is to see what conduct has been sanctioned, and if sanctioned, carried out.

Aesthetic Issue

Kariamu Welsh Asante has identified seven aspects of the African aesthetic which she calls "senses". Based upon her field research into Zimbabwe dance she isolated polyrhythm, polycentrism, dimensionality, repetition, curvilinearity, epic memory, and wholism as investigative categories for African aesthetics. Each aspect might be examined from the disciplinary perspective by any researcher using the idea of African centrality. Particularly useful in the context of drama, dance, the plastic arts, and literature, the aesthetic senses represent an Afrocentric approach to the subject of African art.

The Shape of the Discipline

The groundedness of observations and behaviors in the historical experiences of Africans becomes the main base for operation in the field of African American Studies. Centrism, the operation of the African as subject (or the Latino as subject or the European as subject, and so forth), allows Africology to take its place alongside other disciplines without hierarchy and without hegemony. As a discipline, Africology is sustained by a commitment to centering the study of African phenomena, events, and persons in the particular cultural voice of the composite African people. But it does not promote such a view as universal. Furthermore, it opens the door for interpretations of reality based upon evidence and data secured by reference to that world voice.

The anteriority of the classical African civilizations must be entertained by any Africalogical inquiry, simply because without that perspective, our work hangs in the air, detached, and isolated or becomes nothing more than a sub-set of the Eurocentric disciplines. As I have often said, without Afrocentricity in this way, our research becomes disconnected, without historical continuity, incidental, and nonorganic.

The Eurocentric dogma creates an intellectual structure that locks the African in a conceptual prison. One key to this dogma is that philosophy is the highest discipline and that philosophy is Greek. Thus, Greece becomes the model for the structure of knowledge in the West. According to this dogma, everything starts with the Greeks: philosophy, politics, art, drama, literature, and mathematics. There is no philosophy in Africa, Asia, or the Americas, only the Europeans have philosophy. However, since the first Greek philosophers, Thales and Socrates, studied philosophy in Kemet

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(Ancient Egypt), philosophy could not have started with the Greeks. Cheikh Anta Diop, perhaps the greatest African intellect of the 20th century, argued that there could be no understanding of things Africans without linkage to ancient Kemet. Thus, Egypt is to the rest of the African world as Greece is to the rest of the European world. Europe constitutes itself around several principles including its connection, however mythical or distant, to ancient Greece, to certain ideas that are traced to the Greeks and to the Romans, and to Christianity as a unifying theme from the 10th century A.D.

Subject Fields

To say that Africology is a discipline does not mean that it is without subject fields or interest areas. There are seven general subject fields which I have identified following the work of Maulana Kranga in Introduction to Black Studies: communicative, social, historical, cultural, political, economic, and psychological. Most of the people who are working in the fields are approaching their work from one of the above subject fields. A student of Africology chooses a research issue which falls within one or more of these subject fields. In any endeavor to uncover, analyze, criticize, or anticipate an issue, the Africalogist works to use the appropriate methods for the subject. To examine cultural nationalism, for example, within the historical or political subject field would require a consonant method for research.

There are three paradigmatic approaches to research in Africology: functional, categoral, and etymological. The first represents needs, policy, and action orientations. Categoral refers to schemes, gender, class, and themes. The etymological paradigm deals with language, literatures, and oratures. Studies of either sort might be conducted in the context of African society, either on the continent or in the Americas. The aim is to provide research results that is ultimately verifiable in human experience.

A student of Africology might choose to study in the general field of history but use the functional paradigm. Or choose psychology and use the etymological paradigm. Of course, many combinations are possible and the student is limited only by her or his ability to properly conceptualize the topic for study in an Afrocentric manner. Since Africology is not history, political science, communication, literary analysis, or sociology, the student must be well-grounded in the assumptions of the Afrocentric approach to human knowledge.

Scholars in our field have often been handicapped in their quest for clear and authoritative statements by a lack of methodological direction for collection and analyzing data, choosing and interpreting research themes, approaching and appreciating cultural artifacts, and isolating and evaluating facts. This has been the case, although works by Larry Neal and Paul Carter Harrison in the literary theory field introduced us to the possibilities inherent in our own centered positions as early as the Sixties. However, as an increasingly self-conscious field African American Studies, Africology, has begun to produce a variety of philosophical approaches to Afrocentric inquiry. These studies have served to underscore the need for solid methodological studies at the level of basic premises of the field and have become, in effect, pioneer works in a new perspective on phenomena.

Afrocentric psychologists have led in the reconceptualization of the field of African personality theories. Among the leaders in this field have been people like Daudi Azibo of Temple, Wade Nobles of San Francisco State, Joseph Baldwin of Florida A and M, Linda James Myers of Ohio State, and Na'im Akbar of Florida State University. They have explored areas of human psychology which impinge on the African experience. Political Scientists qua political scientists such as Ronald Walters, Leonard Jeffries, Mack Jones, Manning Marable and James Turner have argued positions that may be called Afrocentric. Maulana Karenga, Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, and Jacob Carruthers, from their original base in political science, have become Afrocentrists. The work of Houston Baker in the area of vernacular theory might be considered Afrocentric inasmuch as the source of his images are


culturally centered. In addition, the works of several writers, such as Henry Louis Gates, Abu Abarry, Joyce Joyce, and Eleanor Traylor have elements of centered locations. The field of sociology, since the early days of the first departments in 1882 and 1884 at Chicago and Columbia respectively, has remained bogged down in social problems and paradigms that do not permit adequate assessment of African cultural data. A number of African American sociologists are attempting to break out of those quagmires. Robert Staples had been an early pioneer in this field and now the work of Bruce Hare at Syracuse is signficant in this respect. Vivian Gordon has long been a major force in the Africana Womanist project in which sex and race are joined rather than separated as in the work of the Afrofemcentrists or the Black Feminists. Indeed, Gordon's work is joined with that of Clenora Hudson Weems and Brenda Verner to make the most Afrocentric statement on the woman question we have seen in Africology. They have found their models, like Dona Marimba Richards, in the ancient models of Auset-Ausar and Mawu-Lisa. In design and architecture, scholars such as Bill Harris at the University of Virginia are exploring Afrocentric designs in housing. What would we have done without the porch as a daycare platform?

Africology is defined as the Afrocentric study of phenomena, events, ideas, and personalities related to Africa. The mere study of African phenomena is not Africology but some other intellectual enterprise. I make no judgment on those enterprises, I simply say that they are not Africalogical. Like other disciplines, more or less severe, our discipline is based upon certain assumptions, objectives and constructions of language. Thus, the Temple Circle of Afrocentric scholars have tried to exorcise terms such as sub-Saharan, Hottentot, Bushmen, pygmy, and minority. Such a massive project of redressing and de-centering of Africans will surely take us deep into the 21st century. The scholar who generates research questions based upon the centrality of Africa is engaged in a very different research questions based upon the centrality of Africa is engaged in a very different research inquiry than the one who imposes Western criteria on the phenomena. Afrocentric is the most important word in the definition, otherwise one might think that any study of African phenomena or people constitutes Africology. It is the commitment to perspective and method that distinguishes the discipline from others.

Geographical Scope

The geographical scope of the African world, and hence, the Africalogical enterprise, includes Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, various regions of Asia and the Pacific. Wherever people declare themselves as African, despite the distance from the continent or the recency of their out-migration, they are accepted as part of the African world. Thus, the indigenous people of Australia and New Guinea are considered African and in a larger context subjects for Africalogists who maintain a full analytical and theoretical discussion of African phenomena.

Although the major regions of the African culture are Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas, even within those regions there are varying degrees of cultural and technological affinity to an African world voice. Africology is concerned with Africans in any particular aas well as all regions. Thus, Abdias do Nascimento, our visiting professor from Brazil at Temple this year, can remind us that Brazil is significant for understanding the African presence in the Americas. In Brazil, Zumbi, the greatest king of the Palmares Republic, Luisa Mahin, and Luiz Gama are principal figures in the making of history; in the Dominican Republic, Diego de Campo and Lemba provide the same historical and intellectual energy one finds in Venezuela with Oyocta, King Miguel, and King Bayano; and in Columbia there is Benkos Bioho; and Mexico the Great African American, Yanga.

Africology rejects the Africanist idea of the separation of African people on the continent from African people in the Diaspora as being intellectually short-sighted, analytically vapid, and philosophically unsound.


One cannot study Afrlcans in the United States or Brazil or Jamaica without some appreciation for the historical and cultural significance of Africa as source and origin. The reactionary position which sees African American Studies as African Slave Studies, that is the making and the un-making of the slave, is categorically rejected. Thus, if one studies Africans in a Northeast city in the United States, one must do it with the idea that one is studying African people, not Made-in-America Negroes without historical depth. This has a direct bearing on data gathered for any analysis or study of African people. The researcher must examine everything possible to be able to make an adequate case. Actually the gathering of data must proceed on the basis that everything that can be used must be used. Therefore, it is impossible for a person to become an Africalogist simply by using the historical method, or the critical method, or the experimental method, and so forth. In order to become the best type of Africalogist one must use all the elements of data gathering, in any particular area, for an adequate assessment. This means that I might have to use literary analysis and historical analysis in examining one theme or issue. Video records and oral records are as important as written records and must be seen as a part of the portfolio of documentation that is available to the Africalogist.

The Temple Project

A final statement ought to be made about the classificatory aspects of Africology. These ideas are given within the framework of the creation of the doctoral program at Temple. Two fields, cultural aesthetics and social behavioral, exist in our department. They are the results of debate, discussion, consensus within the faculty. With twelve faculty members we have established a reputation for intellectual debate and dialogue that opens the discourse on discipline questions. Africology is a severe discipline. It became necessary for us to commit traditional discipline suicide in order to advance Africology within the structure of the university.

The students we are training will not have that particular problem. They will start out being Africalogists who have read everything in their concentrations, as well as the theoretical works in the discipline. Already we have seen our students expand the discourse in almost every field. Thus, we have proposed the following two areas of research and responsibility.

Creative, inventive, artistic, literary:
epistemic issues, ethics, politics, psychology, and modes of behavior;
scientific issues,history, linguistics, economics, and methods of investigation;
artistic issues, icon, art, motifs, symbols, and types of presentation

Social, behavioral, action, historical:
relationships, the living, the dead, the unborn;
cosmos, culture, race, class, gender;
mythoforms, origins, struggles, victories;
and recognitions, conduct, designs, signs

These principal areas, cultural/aesthetic and social/behavioral, constitute the grounds upon which we must stand as we continue to build this discipline. I am certain that the scholars who will replace us will advance the relocating process in theory and practice as the generalship of the field improves in the give-and-take of critical debate. As it has been necessary in every aspect of the African's existence for the past five hundred years, it is also necessary in the area of human knowledge for us to struggle to enhance our perspective, recovering it from the distorted junk heap of Eurocentric hegemony. And, as in the past, there will be those scholars of whatever cultural and racial background who will understand our abiding interest in free and full inquiry from our own centered perspective and who will become the new Melville Herskovitz and Robert Farris Thompsons. A field of study must be open to all who share its perspective and methodology; ours is no different.

The future of Africology will depend upon those who are committed to the principles of academic excellence and social responsibility. Those principles must be interpreted within the framework of an Afrocentric vision in order to maintain a space and location for Africalogy within the Academy. I have no doubt that this will be done by the scholars and students who are coming after us. They will find in their own


time and energy and will to carry out their intellectual mission as we are trying to carry out ours in order to create new spaces for human discussion.