Africa at a Crossroads: Challenges and Prospects


Africa at a Crossroads

Type: Vanderbilt Initiative Award (ViA)

This project seeks to build – for the first time at Vanderbilt – an interdisciplinary community of Africanists to explore the topic “Africa at a Crossroads.” Investigators will explore the widespread notion that contemporary socio-economic, cultural and political indicators demonstrate that Africa now stands at a pivotal point – marked by both infinite possibilities and lingering challenges. Those who engage the region from scholarly, policy or mercantile perspectives are compelled to reckon with a plethora of positive trends – growing economies, slowing rates of HIV infections, declining infant mortality rates, a rising middle class, democratic consolidation, entrepreneurial innovations in the physical and virtual worlds and the reverse migration of Africa’s best brains. This project draws from multiple disciplinary perspectives, including history, medicine, sociology, ethnomusicology, economics, political science and anthropology, to analyze the extent to which the current state of affairs indicates that Africa stands at a crossroads ripe with challenges and prospects. This collaboration also provides opportunities for students to study Africa through immersive experiences.

Faculty Participants

Lead Faculty in bold

College of Arts & Science

School of Medicine (Clinical)

  • Muktar Aliyu, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Medicine

Blair School of Music

Peabody College

  • Carolyn Heinrich, Professor of Public Policy and Education, Dept. of Leadership, Policy & Organizations