Located in Churchill House on the campus of Brown University, the Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre together comprise the intellectual center for faculty and students interested in the artistic, historical, political, literary, performative and theoretical expressions of the various cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. The building was built for, and used by the Rhode Island Women’s Club before Brown acquired it in 1972. At that time, the Afro-American Society, the Afro-American Studies Program, and the Graduate Minority Association moved into the building. Later that year, the Third World Center (renamed in 2014 to the Brown Center for Students of Color) opened in the basement of Churchill House before relocating to Partridge Hall in 1986. Currently, Churchill House, gut renovated and expanded in 2023, remains the home to the Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre.
The faculty in the department are at the forefront in advancing the discipline by researching and teaching new and innovative knowledge produced by the critical study of the intersections of class, gender, nation, race, and sexuality informed by multiple theoretical and methodological perspectives. We offer a rigorous undergraduate program and graduate program leading to the Ph.D. in Africana Studies, and are among the top departments in the United States. Members of the faculty have received top honors and awards for their innovative scholarship and contributions to the academy and public life, including the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Gish Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the MacArthur Fellowship, and the Man Booker International Prize.