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CHAPTER EIGHT. Singing the Challenges: The Arts and Humanities as Collaborative Sites in African-American Studies

Herman Beavers

Subject Race and Ethnicity Studies » African American Studies

Key-Topics arts and architecture

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631235163.2005.00011.x


In a recent exchange with Henry Louis Gates on the role of activism in the field of African-American Studies at the present time, Manning Marable makes the observation that “too many Black Studies programs have a tendency to focus largely on the arts and humanities and much less on political economy, public policy, and urban ethnography.” He goes on to state “this literary and cultural studies orientation should be balanced by a greater emphasis on social science.” In his view, the “greatest challenge” for African-American Studies departments and programs is “how to reduce or eliminate the destructive consequences of institutional racism and inequality in a liberal democratic state.” I must say at the outset that I hold Professor Marable in very high esteem: his commitment to balancing his activism with the kinds of entrepreneurial initiatives required for African-American Studies to flourish in the academy at the present time is beyond question. I am not quite prepared, however, to accept his contention that programs and courses which emphasize the arts and humanities are somehow not as substantive in their intent as those which center on the social sciences and public policy. Before I offer suggestions for how we might adopt a both/and attitude toward the content to be found in African-American Studies rather than an either/or approach, I want to state unequivocally that I take ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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