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Oriental Studies – African Studies

The tradition of African studies at the University of Warsaw dates back to the 1950s, when Stefan Strelcyn (1918-1981), a student of the French Semitist Marcel Cohen, became the head of the newly established Department of Semitic Studies. The first programme of studies included courses in Hebrew and two and gain methodological skills needed to conduct research in a broad area of cultural and linguistic studies. Since October 2022, a new second-cycle programme in English will be available, offering primary and advanced language courses in one of the available African languages, as well as courses in Ethiopian languages, Ge’ez and Amharic; with time, Hausa and Swahili were added to the syllabus. In 1977, Joanna Mantei-Niecko, contemporary issues relating to literatures, cultural linguistics, codes and communication, African African cultural popular one of the first graduates of Semitic studies, founded the Chair of African Languages and Cultures as a centre for interdisciplinary area studies, with three regional sections dedicated to West Africa, the Horn of Africa, and East Africa.

In addition to intensive language courses in Amharic, Hausa, and Swahili, the Chair focuses on social, cultural, linguistic, historical, and literary studies. The Chair offers a first­ cycle programme in African studies. Next to learning one of the African languages, students are introduced to African geography, history, art, anthropology, linguistics, and current social issues. Graduates acquire the competence to understand and interpret a range of cultural topics of the chosen region and mass culture, along with instruction in modern methods of academic research.

The members of staff conduct research in the following disciplines: linguistics, literature, history, religions, and ethnology, publishing their findings in the Studies in African Languages and Cultures journal published since 1984. The staff are qualified to lead projects within their research areas and to supervise doctoral theses. The Chair is subsumed into the university programme for PhD students who may choose to write their thesis either in African linguistics or African literature.

The Chair has been co-operating with academic institutions in Europe and Africa. It has bilateral agreements on student exchange and teaching staff mobility within the Erasmus scheme, and has signed memoranda of co-operation with Bayero University, Kana, Nigeria, University of Dar­es-Salaam, Tanzania, and with Mekelle University, Ethiopia.

The Chair of African Languages and Cultures Conducts Research in the Following Fields:

  • African literature
  • African manuscripts and the Ajami writings
  • Typological features of African languages
  • Lexicography of African languages (Swahili, Hausa)
  • Language and culture: lexical semantics and cognitive models
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Film in Africa and its social context
  • Oral tradition of African cultures
  • Islam in West Africa
  • Ethnic and national identity in Africa

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