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P.O. Box 59 (Unioninkatu 38B)
00014 University of Helsinki


African Studies

African studies in the Department of World Cultures reflects in its regional emphasis the history which Finland has shared with Africa. Most research and teaching activities focus on Eastern and Southern Africa, but individual researchers and students also deal with topics in other areas of the continent. Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa, as well as Namibia and South Africa play a particularly important role in our activities. Exchange agreements with partner universities in Stellenbosch (South Africa) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), as well as Antananarivo (Madascar) facilitate student, teacher and researcher mobility.

As far as the curriculum is concerned, one key language is Swahili in both research and teaching. Important advances in the study of Swahili for which Helsinki is reknown are linked to the activities in computational linguistics and corpus-building focussing on Swahili. Other languages in our research focus include southern African Bantu languages, Tamazight (Berber) varieties, among others.

In addition to language studies, we are particularly interested in the intersection of language and culture. Permanent members and doctoral students of theDepartment deal with a number of topics, ranging from African history and cultural studies to linguistic anthropology and literature in African languages. This is also reflected in our courses which are popular among both students who have African studies as their major, as well as students from related disciplines such as linguistics, anthropology, development studies, history and many others. In our teaching offer we have more and more courses taught in English, catering for a growing number of students from abroad who study with us at MA or PhD level.

In African Studies we are aware of the responsibility to disseminate academic knowledge on Africa and make it available to a broader public. One important activity based at our Department is the publication of the Nordic Journal of African Studies (