About AAST

Faculty with Nikole Hannah Jones
AAST faculty and Fulbright administrator Elecia Smith (red jacket) pose with Fall Lecture Series speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones.  

The African and African American Studies Program (AAST) at the University of Arkansas is an interdisciplinary program that expands on the core disciplines of a traditional liberal arts education. We explore the legacy of the African diaspora and African descended people’s global experiences.

We strive to advance social consciousness, promote equity, and support the highest level of academic excellence through critical and global thinking in the classroom and beyond. Through the study of the histories, cultures, and contemporary experiences of the African diaspora, we examine the important role that race has played in the creation of the world in which our students live.


Caree BantonI am honored to serve as the director of the African and African American Studies Program at the University of Arkansas. I am sincerely grateful to the joint and affiliated faculty of African and African American studies for their vote of confidence in my commitment to our legacy as a program.

Indeed, I stand on the shoulders of giants who came before me and who in their individual ways built and expanded the program. I am therefore grateful to the former directors, affiliate faculty, staff and graduate assistants, donors, and students for their past and continued service and commitment to the program’s mission.

In building on this 50-year legacy, it is my aim to embrace and work with the diverse communities that constitute Africa and the diaspora, including Africans, African Americans, Afro-Caribbean peoples, Afro-Indigenous, Afro-Latinas, and all others.

To support the legacy of academic excellence and achievements of our students and faculty, I will seek to form coalitions and partnerships within the university and the local community with which the African and African American Studies Program interfaces.

It is very important that we have a strong and engaged African and African American Studies Program at this present moment of uprisings, and while facing a global pandemic, and a financial recession. To this end, we have created an AAST COVID-19 Emergency scholarship and resource page in an effort to help to address the needs of our students.

Through courses and curricular programming, the AAST Program will also aim to bring its interdisciplinary approach and methodological frameworks to interrogate our past and current realities and elevate silenced voices so as to foster a better understanding of our societal inequities and injustices in ways that might help us to envision the possibilities of a different and brighter future.

We encourage you to get involved in the program in whatever way you are able – stop by the office, pick up the phone, send us a tweet, an email, or check us out on social media.

We welcome your voice and ideas!


Caree A. Banton, Ph.D.
Director of African and African American Studies
Associate Professor of History


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