Black creative expression is at the core of what we study, teach, and perform at Berklee. It is also at the core of who we are within the Africana Studies Division and at the Africana Studies Center. Black creative expression is what we value and what we empower.
Africana studies was founded in 1969 as an interdisciplinary field to extend the study of African Americans to include the study of the people of the African diaspora. The gem of the discipline is its multidisciplinary analysis of Black thought, Black expression, and Black power—intellectual, spiritual, cultural, economic, social, and political. At Berklee, we enter this complex and comprehensive field through Black creative expression.
We use the term Black to describe the diverse cultural expressions rooted from the African continent and dispersed across the African diaspora. Through the lens of ethnomusicology we study and contextualize Black music. Through the lens of ethnochoreology we study and contextualize Black dance. Through the lens of ethnodramaturgy we study and contextualize Black theater.
Berklee students, both at the College and Conservatory, will learn to engage Black creative expression from a multitude of approaches across genres and time, place and space. Through our Africana studies minor and future programs in development, across our learning environments, Berklee will soon emerge as the preeminent global hub where mastery in performance and academic excellence intersect to reflect the brilliance, resilience, and hope of Black culture.
Africana studies at Berklee guides, equips, and challenges diverse human beings to lead with a commitment to equity and justice through our inclusive creations. Through our performance and study of Black music, Black dance, and Black theater, we teach our students to leverage their talent and brilliance to be, in the words of John Coltrane, “a force for good.”
We want to talk about the richest tradition in the history of modernity, and that has to do with musical tradition[s] from people of African descent who, out of their doings and sufferings, were able to transcend and transfigure their moans and groans into an art form that all of us now must focus on. Black music matters...
Cornel West, speaking at the Berklee Africana studies inaugural concert