University of Wisconsin–Madison

Message From the Director

I am honored to serve as the Director of the African Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Established in 1961 by Philip D. Curtin and Jan Vansina, the African Studies Program has for more than fifty years now served as a leading center for research, teaching, and outreach. We owe a great deal to Curtin and Vansina, whose vision of the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a hub for African Studies and their pioneering work in realizing this vision continues to pay dividends.

The African Studies Program includes more than 70 tenured and tenure-track faculty members with expertise ranging across the disciplines. In recent years, the program has increased its presence in the professional schools, the natural sciences, and the biomedical sciences while maintaining its longstanding strengths in history, politics, language, and other fields.

The increased diversity of our faculty has allowed for the extension of our tradition of training Africa specialists and teaching large numbers of undergraduate students. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has awarded more Ph.D. degrees to Africa specialists than any other American university since the African Studies Program’s founding in 1961; and each year 3000 undergraduate students take one of the more than 100 courses offered on Africa.

The African Studies Program also hosts a constant stream of talented Africanist academics, artists, and policy makers to Wisconsin. I am fortunate to be part of such a vibrant, thriving, and collegial community, I look forward to building on the wonderful legacy of African Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Elsewhere on this site is a wealth of information on personnel, events, and programming of all kinds.

I invite you and all who are interested to support and engage with our Wisconsin community of African Studies scholars and students.

Neil Kodesh is an historian of Africa with a particular emphasis on the Great Lakes region. His research and teaching interests center on health and healing, historical anthropology, and methodologies for writing early African history. His first book, Beyond the Royal Gaze: Clanship and Public Healing in Buganda, won the Melville Herskovits Prize of the African Studies Association.

Image of Neil Kodesh
Neil Kodesh, Director of the African Studies Program