The Africa Through Language and Area Studies (ATLAS) Initiative is made possible through University of Maryland’s Grand Challenges Grants. This team grant is led by Miranda Abadir, senior faculty specialist at the National Foreign Language Center (ARHU), and Matthew Thomann, assistant professor of anthropology (BSOS), with support from many collaborators from across campus. From its inception, ATLAS was envisioned as a way to highlight and bring together Africa-related research, scholarship, courses and events happening across University of Maryland’s campus, including African American and African diaspora studies. The initiative received tremendous support from faculty and departments spanning the UMD campus community, and in March 2023, the University of Maryland awarded ATLAS a three-year Grand Challenges Team Project Grant.

ATLAS serves as a nexus for the study of African languages, history, contemporary issues, and research at the University of Maryland with the goal of increasing the understanding of the African continent and its growing global influence. Through a website that acts as a virtual hub, ATLAS seeks to centralize all courses, events, and student groups that focus on Africa and the African diaspora, as well as showcase relevant research and scholarship throughout campus. The website is intended to be a platform where the campus community can come together to find and share information encompassing all UMD activities related to African studies.

ATLAS also hosts a monthly speaker series and an annual conference on the study of Africa and its diaspora, bringing together interested faculty, staff, and students and attracting African thought leaders and scholars to engage with the UMD community. By celebrating the diversity and contributions of the many UMD faculty and students working on topics related to Africa, ATLAS seeks to reduce disparities in representation, increase the prominence of African and African American topics of study, encourage more scholarship on Africa, and foster community across different departments and fields of study.

Our hope is that ATLAS will have a strong foundation at the end of the grant period and that this initiative will thrive on UMD’s campus well beyond the grant funding period. We invite you to join the ATLAS Initiative! 

Please note that this website will continue to develop in the upcoming months. Please visit us again soon for more information!