Black Studies at the University of Oregon: An Anti-Racism Project

Black Studies is the interdisciplinary study of people of African descent, with a particular focus on the United States. As a field, Black Studies explores the relationship between white domination and black resistance and explicates the histories and legacies of slavery, the slave trade, colonialism, and imperialism throughout the African Diaspora.  It also interrogates the formative historical influence of people of African descent upon the mapping and making of Western Civilization and articulations of globality created through the Black radical tradition.  Black Studies faculty at the UO use a comparative and relational approach to interrogate social constructions of blackness and racialized projections of black people in dominant culture and popular cultural narratives. Black Studies faculty make plain the correlation between discursive and material anti-blackness, “blackness” as a racial formation and its relation to African-descended people. Our faculty also specialize in situating articulations of blackness vis-à-vis intersections with ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, and related vectors of sociopolitical power.   

Black Studies at the University of Oregon draws from courses across the curriculum that survey the histories of the African diaspora, black political ideologies and practices, intellectual and ideological traditions, as well as the cultural expressions and creative arts of people of African descent. 


  1. Black Studies minors will have an understanding of the histories, experiences, political projects, and literary and cultural productions of Black people in the African Diaspora 
  2. Black Studies minors will have a familiarity with the history of Black Studies, debates among Black Studies scholars and current intellectual trends in the field of Black Studies 
  3. The relationship between the white racial imaginary and projections of “blackness” in American political and ideological discourses, popular culture and media.
  4. Black Studies minors will gain the critical thinking skills necessary to situate contemporary issues concerning Black people in the U.S. in relational and intersectional contexts. 

Upon completion of a Black Studies minor, students will understand: 

  • The principle of hypodescent, its relation to British settler colonialism, and its peculiarity to the United States. 
  • How definitions of “blackness” vis-à-vis “whiteness” are rooted in historic forces, such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade, slavery, segregation, colonialism, imperialism, and globalization. 
  • How anti-black ideologies legitimate anti-black practices in the U.S. and other diasporic locations, such as slavery, segregation, disenfranchisement, sterilization, police harassment and brutality, mass incarceration, and related phenomena. 
  • How the histories and experiences of Black people in the U.S. and other diasporic locations are shaped by the intersections of race with ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, and other vectors of power.   
  • How Black political cultures and cultural politics subvert and reproduce dominant cultural narratives of “blackness.” 
  • How notions of blackness and articulations of Black social movements, political histories, and cultural production converge and diverge throughout the U.S. and other Afro-diasporic locations.  
  • The relationship between the histories of descendants of American slaves and those of other Afro-diasporic populations. 
  • Historic and contemporary national and transnational migrations of Black peoples within, to, and from the United States, and how those migrations influence Black cultures and identities, and political and social institutions.