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Area studies, such as African Studies, complements disciplinary inquiry by promoting multi-perspective investigations of focused regions. Students with both disciplinary and regional expertise are better prepared to thoughtfully engage global issues. For internationally focused Macalester, recognition of the importance of area studies dates back to the 1950s, and is currently embodied in our African, Latin American, Asian, and Russian-Central-East European studies programs.

Disciplines contributing to African Studies may roughly be divided between the humanities (mainly history, literature, music, art and religion), the social sciences (anthropology, archeology, economics, education, geography, political science, sociology) and the physical sciences (physical geography, ecology, botany).

African Studies has grown to be a dynamic realm of inquiry that regularly contributes to the broader academic discourse. Africanist scholars have tested the validity of widely accepted notions in the African context. They also have developed new theories that have influenced thinking in other regional contexts. The burgeoning field of African Studies has spawned a number of academic journals, examples of which include: Africa, African Affairs, African Arts, African Journal of Ecology, African Languages and Cultures, Africa Today, African Studies Review, Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines, Canadian Journal of African Studies, Journal des Africanistes, Journal of African Economies, Journal of African History, Journal of Asian and African Studies, Journal of Modern African Studies, Journal of Southern African Studies, Research in African Literatures, and Review of African Political Economy.