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Edmund T. Gordon, Chair 2109 San Jacinto Blvd , Mailcode E3400, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4362

Minkah Makalani

Assistant Professor Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies


AFR 317E • Liberation In Afr Diaspora

30450 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm PAR 206
(also listed as LAS 310 )
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Examination of liberation and freedom struggles in the African diaspora, focusing on common intellectual, political, and social currents among the diaspora's various groups. Course focuses on three major themes: abolitionism, Pan-Africanism and national liberation, and hip hop. Particular emphasis will be on the ideas associated with these movements, and the major organizations and intellectual currents in all three.

May be counted toward the global cultures flag requirement.



AFR 372C • Mixed Race And Sex In America

30511 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PAR 105
(also listed as AMS 321 )
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Race and sex remain controversial topics of public debate, with interracial sexual unions and their (“mixed-race”) progeny constituting one of the more troublesome features of the American democratic experiment. It therefore seems hardly coincidental that Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States, is the son of a Kenyan father and white mother from Kansas. How did his mixed-racial parentage impact his election? Did it render him less black and thus palatable to whites? Do black people still consider him black, or question his authenticity? And how important is it that Obama identifies as black, not biracial?

This course examines the history of mixed-race and interracial sex in America, with particular attention to the racial ideologies, legal structures, policies, and social categories that have defined people of mixed-racial parentage as belonging to, or not belonging to, a given racial group. While people of mixed parentage (parents from two different racial groups) have grown over the past two decades, these have been long standing realities in American history. Given the history of race and racial oppression in America, we will explore the stereotypes and anxieties around interracial sex (black rapists/sluts; submissive Asian women/effeminate Asian men; exotic Latin@s, etc.), and how political power, property, and sexual violence informed such views. Though much of the course will center on people of mixed-black/white parentage/ancestry, we will also examine similar themes involved Asian/white, black/Asian, Latin@/black, Latin@/white, and Middle Eastern/black interracial unions and parentage/ancestry over the course of American history.



Shirley Thompson, Exiles at Home: The Struggle to Become American in Creole New Orleans (Harvard U. Press)

Gerg Carter, The United States of the united Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing (New York U. Press)

Kimberley McClain DaCosta, Making Multiracials: State, Family, and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line (Stanford U. Press)

Danzy Senna, Caucasia (Penguin)


AFR 317E • Diaspora: Race/Nation/Resistnc

30610 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm JES A207A
(also listed as ANT 310L )
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Instructor: Dr. Minkah Makalani

Course Description

This course offers students a comparative study in the makings and meanings of diaspora. We

begin by defining the differences and similarities between diaspora and related concepts such as

race, nation and cultural identity. Focusing specifically on black folk in the Americas, our

concerns will revolve around how different groups in diaspora have understood themselves, and

their relationships to others in the diaspora, their place within the nation, and how a sense of

their ties to one another has fostered alternative ways of being. In turn, how those in the African

diaspora have responded to their place within various nation-states (the United States, Haiti,

Brazil, Dominican Republic, England, etc.) has entailed various forms of resistance. Along these

lines, we will explore how African diasporic populations have responded to slavery, colonialism,

racial oppression, and modernity as they articulated notions of democracy that challenged

dominant structures of citizenship. We explore these ideas through looking at slave revolts,

anticolonial and Afro-Asian liberation struggles, Black/Third World Feminism, globalization,

and the sexual politics of diaspora. Across each of these themes, we work under the premise that

diaspora is an open and fluid space through which its participants “make our world anew.” (This

is a lower division undergrad course).

Requirements: Students are expected to complete the course readings and to arrive prepared for

discussion based on the readings. Students are expected to maintain regular attendance. After

your third absence (your fourth absence), your grade will be lowered one letter grade (i.e., you

will receive a zero for Attendance). Class assignments include one take-home essay (4-pages,

typed and doubled spaced), an in-class midterm exam (identifications and short essay) and a final.


Attendance: 10%

Participation: 15%

Essay Assignment 20%

Midterm: 20%

Final: 35%

• Extra Credit opportunities will be made available to students. Guidelines will be discussed in class

• Guidelines for all assignments, including the midterm and final exam, will be distributed throughout the course of

the semester.

• The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified

students with disabilities. For more information, contact.


Academic Integrity

Students are advised to familiarize themselves with the University of Texas’ policies on academic

integrity, and the penalty for plagiarism and other forms of cheating. Please note, any instance of

plagiarism in this course will result in an automatic “F” for the assignment; the final disposition of

a penalty will follow the University’s guidelines. Please follow the links below for more


Required Texts

Available at the University Co-op Bookstore

• Cathy J. Cohen,

Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics.

• W.E.B Du Bois,

The Souls of Black Folk. (2008 Oxford edition; Intro. by Brent Hayes


• George Lamming,

The Pleasures of Exile.

• Audre Lorde,

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.

• All other readings available on blackboard, or as Electronic book from UT library.


AFR 317E • Liberation In African Diaspora

30280 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 930am-1100am MEZ 1.102
(also listed as LAS 310 )
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This course examines the liberation movements in the African diaspora, from political activities to cultural production, and the circulation of ideas among people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Though the course will concentrate on maroonage, nationalism, anti-colonial liberation, music, and studying the major figures and intellectual currents of liberation, it will also explore how African diasporic movements have impacted world history and have expanded the meanings of such concepts as freedom, enlightenment, and rights. The course will also consider how travel and internationalism informed various movements. In thinking about what constitutes the African diaspora and how a liberation movement takes shape within it, the course will explore major political and intellectual trends in the African diaspora. For example, how did the Haitian revolution (the only successful slave revolt in history) inspire Black people during slavery and after? How did it challenge enlightenment thinking and what it means to be human? How did Black nationalism articulate the bonds between African liberation movements and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement? What are Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, and Cuba important sites in the political imaginary?

AFR 372C • Black Freedom Movement

30310 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm MEZ 2.124
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The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States to many signaled the culmination of the mid-century American Civil Rights Movement. Making sense of such a claim, however, begs the question, what were CRM’s goals. This course will focus on what scholars are now calling the Black Freedom Movement — the Civil Rights and the Black Power Movement — to understand precisely what the goals and objectives were, that would help explain the sense that this movement has finally realized its goal with the election of the nation’s first black president. It also brings into question whether the Black Freedom Movement’s impulse was toward mere integration, or a more fundamental interrogation and critique of the American democratic experiment.


Among the topics covered in this course, we will consider what motivated black people, in the face of extreme violence and often the certainty of death, to mount a movement to reshape society. Along with exploring their motivations, this course will consider the forms of activism they pursued, what the various groups of people envisioned as the socially just and free society; in other words, what kind of world did they hope to bring into existence? Was it merely a world free of racism? Was it a new world entirely? We will approach these questions by looking at political struggles around culture, aesthetics, and identity. In addition, we will give attention to the international, how Civil Rights and Black Power activists worked to link their struggles to African and non-African liberation movements, with special attention to their efforts to build linkages with the liberation struggles of other oppressed groups (e.g., Puerto Ricans, Chicanas/os, Asian Americans, women, students, etc.), and how these movements themselves had international dimensions (organizations and activism in Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe).

AFR 317E • Diaspora: Race/Nation/Resistnc

30225 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm UTC 1.104
(also listed as ANT 310L )
show description

This course offers students a comparative study in the makings and meanings of diaspora. We begin by defining the differences and similarities between diaspora and related concepts such as race, nation and cultural identity. Focusing specifically on the making of the Black Atlantic world, we then draw a comparative analysis between black diasporic life and that of other global dispersals, particularly among Asian and indigenous populations. Resistance serves as a key link in this comparative study.  As such, we focus on themes such as slavery and colonialism, black revolt in the modern world, Third World/Afro-Asian liberation, Black/Third World Feminism, globalization, the sexual politics of diaspora, Across each of these themes, we work with the premise that diaspora is an open and fluid space through which its participants “make our world anew.” (This is a lower division undergrad course) 


  1. Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route
  2. W.E.B DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk
  3. Vijay Prashad, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections & The Myth Of Cultural Purity
  4. C.L.R James, A History of Pan African Revolt
  5. Horace Campbell, Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney

AFR 386 • Narr African Diaspora Studies

30435 • Fall 2012
Meets T 1230pm-330pm BEL 224K
(also listed as HIS 382L )
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At a fundamental level, historians tell stories, though not necessarily fictions. They build stories through research in archives, newspapers and magazines, organizational records, and even oral interviews. Yet history rarely involves the detailing of a “truth,” simply revealing what happened as it happened, which all future generations merely accept. The production of historical scholarship —deciding what to include, what to leave out, what to say and what not to say — involves a series of choices about how to tell a story. Drawing on the methodological concerns guiding historical scholarship, and theoretical work out of anthropology and literary studies, this course examines how narration shapes the study of the African diaspora.

The course begins with theoretical works that contemplate narrative and narration, which provide a theoretical baseline for exploring some of the core conceptual and methodological concerns guiding African Diaspora studies. Our weekly meetings will focus on how a new way of narrating a story about the African diaspora shapes the field’s growth. 

Black Studies Faculty Highlight

Faculty Highlight: Dr. Minkah Makalani, Assistant Professor of AADS by Ahsika Sanders

Faculty Highlight: Dr. Minkah Makalani, Assistant Professor of AADS by Ahsika Sanders

This Spring semester, UT welcomed new faculty member Dr. Minkah Makalani to Austin as the newest addition to the African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) department.

 tonyaengel man in a paper suitDr. Makalani, the author of ‘In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917 -1939’ (University of North Carolina Press, 2011), taught two undergraduate courses in the Spring semester.  One course was the AFR senior seminar, and the other course was a broad look at social movements among African peoples. These courses aligned with Dr. Makalani’s personal research interests, which include the African diaspora, intellectual history, theory, social movements, race, and racial formation. “The [senior] seminar was a look at the African diaspora intellectuals and took a historian’s approach. We looked at: what are some of the things that preoccupy intellectuals in the African-American diaspora? What are some of their concerns? Then we came all the way up into the inter-colonial period and looked at different figures and different movements. All of the students got really animated about different elements so the class went great.”

“The other course, Liberation in the African Diaspora, [is] just trying to give students a broad introduction to what liberation movements in the African diaspora looked like. We discussed what ‘movement’ really means and we defined African. Then we talked about how to look at the two during slavery, so slave rebellions and most prominently the Haitian revolution.” Dr. Makalani said the course closed with a broad look at the Black Power movement, including the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, and Black consciousness in South Africa. The course also ended with a look at hip-hop, in particular how this music reflects a certain political consciousness in an effort to respond to circumstances. The course is designed to accommodate 35 to 40 students, and Dr. Makalani said that he will structure it in the future so that it will work as a basic, introductory level course for freshmen and sophomores, specifically AFR majors who might move on to take other AFR courses.

Dr. Makalani said the atmosphere at Rutgers, where he taught for eight years, differs from UT in that Rutgers was a commuter campus for faculty, which limited interactions between co-workers.  “Our interactions tended to not be on campus, so that made it a bit more difficult to have the institution be a part of the intellectual community,” he said.  “Here, if there is a talk on Wednesday that I might be interested in, it’s only a 15 minute bike ride to campus, whereas it was a four-hour round-trip commute at Rutgers. In that sense, the intellectual community was a bit more difficult to build and be a part of. “

Dr. Makalani also said the numbers of Black faculty are far greater here than they were at Rutgers. “Being in the African and African Diaspora Studies department specifically, that means that my immediate colleagues are all kind of interested in the same kinds of things - or at least engaging in the same kinds of questions. Whereas [at Rutgers] I was in the history department where, for the most part, my colleagues were not interested in the same kinds of field questions. That meant that I had to have those interactions and exchanges with people from English, Sociology, American Studies, but because no one really lived in the area it made it even more difficult so I kind of feel like I have come into the best possible situation in that regard,” Dr. Makalani said. “I’ve also found that with my new colleagues, there are [many] more rich discussions kind of immediately,” he said.  “You don’t have to establish the ground floor to have that discussion. “

Although he is originally from Kansas City, MO, Dr. Makalani lived and worked in New York off and on for almost 20 years, the last 10 of which were straight through. New York became home to him, so moving to Texas has been a big transition. “I’m looking forward to the coming years, working more with the students. In many ways the student life reminds me of my undergrad years where you have a very small Black student population on a very large predominantly White campus. The kind of issues and concerns that I see students talking about and raising are some of the same things that I remember from undergrad, so I’ve been heartened by what students are talking about, and the kinds of debates that they have with one another that I hear before and after class.”

Dr. Makalani closed by noting, “I’m looking forward to getting more involved with them and, be they [a] Black studies major or not, helping give some insight to the things that they will do. I am much more involved in the student life [here] than I was at Rutgers, but that is a positive change.”

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