Welcome to the Afro-Romance Institute

The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures of the University of Missouri-Columbia has the country's only focus area in the field of Afro-Romance Studies. In 1997, in order to facilitate research collaboration between our faculty members working in this field, scholars outside our institution, and Black writers and artists, we established the Institute for Languages and Literatures of the African Diaspora. The Institute serves first and foremost to expose Black writers, artists, and filmmakers of Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian expression to a wider audience. The institute is truly unique in that it brings all of these African diasporic perspectives under one umbrella.

The Institute's primary focus is the literature, language, visual arts, film, and popular culture of selected areas of Africa, the Americas, and Europe, and the interrelations between these poles across the region commonly termed "the Black Atlantic." It coordinates a number of both internal and external programs designed to bring the literature, arts, and culture of Black artists and writers of Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian language, respectively, into the academic mainstream:

  • Curricular reform
    new courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level
  • Conferences and symposia
    featuring some of the most respected Afro-Romance writers, visual artists, filmmakers, and researchers in the field

The methodology for research sponsored and promoted by the Institute is based on post-colonial, cultural, and critical race theories. The goal of the Institute is not to deny traditional critical methodologies their rightful place in the history of ideas, but rather to offer a complementary way of looking at culture, arts, and literature. Because canon formation has traditionally been linked to the social and political power, we believe that an understanding of post-colonialism and critical race theories is essential for understanding and ultimately remedying the academic marginalization of Afro-Romance writers, visual artists, and filmmakers.