The forty-year history of African American studies has led some scholars to take stock of its roots and its future. This essay examines the field's unexpected origins in black colleges, as well as at predominantly white ones, and assesses the early debates and challenges along the road to academic incorporation. Biondi takes up such questions as: Did the field's origins in the Black Power movement jeopardize its claims to academic legitimacy? If black studies is a discipline, what is its methodology? As an outgrowth of black nationalism on campus, to what extent was black studies U.S.-centric? How did the field relate to the rise of diaspora studies and black feminism? Who takes black studies classes and to what extent does the field retain a political mission? The essay concludes that African American studies remains a vital and dynamic field as it moves into the twenty-first century.

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