Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies



African Studies have a long tradition in Berlin. In 1887, the Department of Oriental Languages was founded at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University (which is now the Humboldt-University). Its purpose was the training of German colonial officials as well as the teaching of African languages. In 1925, Diedrich Westermann became the first professor in African Studies at the university. The history of African Studies has always been closely connected with the political history of Germany: with the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the 'Dritte Reich' and the GDR. Following the reunification of the two German states in 1990, the Department of African Studies was re-founded in its current form.

The department is part of the Intitute of Asian- and African Studies and comprises three disciplines History of Africa, African Linguistics and African Literatures and Cultures. For all three disciplines, African languages are important. Currently, five languages, Bambara, Hausa, Setswana, Swahili and Afrikaans are taught at the department. The Africa Colloquium, an interdisciplinary lecture series held every semester, offers a public space for scholarly discussions concerning topics relevant to all three disciplines.

Berlin offers opportunities for teaching and research that are unique in the German-speaking world. Three universities, several research institutes, rich archival and library collections and guest lecturers from all over the world provide for an optimal organisation of studies as well as for intensive networking between scholars and students.