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“Envisioning the academy as a site of critical engagement for social transformation. . .”
IRAAS is an intellectual community that bridges scholarship, teaching, and public life.
We envision the project of African American Studies as a multi-disciplinary enterprise. Our faculty employ an array of theoretical approaches and methodological strategies to examine historical and contemporary formations in black culture, politics, and society.
The Institute has a rich tradition of scholarship which capitalizes upon our unique location in New York City, especially the dynamic community of Harlem. Currently, IRAAS engages in a broad program of research and teaching that attends to the diversity of black experiences in the global diaspora.
IRAAS understands education to be a necessarily transformative endeavor. To this end, our mission is threefold:
  • To prepare students to become critical thinkers and global citizens;
  • To facilitate and support innovative research (working groups, collaborative and individual projects, and faculty/student grants);
  • To disseminate knowledge through academic and public forums including IRAAS “Conversations,” lectures, roundtable discussions, conferences, and new media platforms.
The Institute for Research in African-American Studies of Columbia University, founded in July 1993 by Dr. Manning Marable, is an academic resource center. The purposes and activities of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies are grounded within the best scholarship of the black intellectual tradition. Towards that end, prior to the establishment of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department at Columbia University in 2019, the Institute administered the Undergraduate and Master's degree programs in African-American Studies at Columbia University; the Institute continues to regularly sponsors academic conferences, lectures and forums on a wide variety of topics; produced the scholarly publication SOULS: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, which is distributed throughout the U.S. and internationally from 1995 to 2011.

IRAAS Directors 1993 to Present

July 2020 –  Present    –  Mabel O. Wilson
July 2017 – June 2020 – Farah Jasmine Griffin
July 2014 – June 2017 – Samuel K. Roberts
July 2013 – June 2014 – Marcellus Blount & Carl Hart (Co-Directors)
July 2009 – June 2013 – Fredrick Harris
July 2008 – June 2009 – Farah Jasmine Griffin
July 2006 – June 2008 – Steven Gregory
July 2003 – June 2006 – Farah Jasmine Griffin
July 1993 – June 2003 – Manning Marable (Founding Director)