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Posts under tag: African Studies

November 14, 2019

Nov 15-16 Race, Racialization, & the Early Modern—Emerging Views


COLT invites you to join guests David Sterling Brown (SUNY Binghamton), Nick Jones (Bucknell U), Christina Lee (Princeton) and Marc Schacter (Durham, U.K.) and respondents Lara Bovilsky (ENG), Leah Middlebrook (COLT), Amanda Powell (RL) and David Wacks (RL) as we consider new research and emerging methodologies by which to approach the concepts of racialization, race, and emergent discourses of national, ethnic and religious identity in the early modern period. In particular, these discussions build from the insight that modern ideas about race were shaped in part by discourses of religious and ethnic sameness and difference that developed in medieval and early modern Iberia.

In addition to the scheduled research presentations and discussions, the symposium includes two open conversations, one focused on mentoring strategies for the 21st century and one focused on publishing venues.

The symposium runs from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Friday and from 9-12:30 on Saturday. All events will be held in the Spruce and Cedar Rooms of the EMU.

Readings are available in advance, for those who would like to learn more about the research of our invited guests.

Please contact Leah Middlebrook ( for links to the readings, or with any questions.

Hope to see you there!

November 7, 2019

Millar Publishes Book on Cuban and Angolan Revolutionary Cultures

Analyzes parallel developments in post–Cold War literature and film from Cuba and Angola to trace a shared history of revolutionary enthusiasm, disappointment, and solidarity.

In Forms of Disappointment, Lanie Millar traces the legacies of anti-imperial solidarity in Cuban and Angolan novels and films after 1989. Cuba’s intervention in Angola’s post-independence civil war from 1976 to 1991 was its longest and most engaged internationalist project and left a profound mark on the culture of both nations. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Millar argues, Cuban and Angolan writers and filmmakers responded to this collective history and adapted to new postsocialist realities in analogous ways, developing what she characterizes as works of disappointment. Revamping and riffing on earlier texts and forms of revolutionary enthusiasm, works of disappointment lay bare the aesthetic and political fragmentation of the public sphere while continuing to register the promise of leftist political projects. Pushing past the binaries that tend to dominate histories of the Cold War and its aftermath, Millar gives priority to the perspectives of artists in the Global South, illuminating networks of anticolonial and racial solidarity and showing how their works not only reflect shared feelings of disappointment but also call for ethical gestures of empathy and reconciliation.

Forms of Disappointment offers an insightful and unique comparative analysis of a body of works produced in the post–Cold War period. By focusing on the Global South, instead of the customary north-south relationship favored by Cuba experts, the book contributes significantly to the fields of Cuban, African, and Latin American Studies; and more broadly to ‘affect theory’ and postcolonial studies. It is remarkably well written with elegant and clear prose.” — Marta Hernández Salván, author of Mínima Cuba: Heretical Poetics and Power in Post-Soviet Cuba

April 18, 2013

Mba Ekani on colonial violence in writings of Beti and Sembène

Ph.D student in French Lise Mba Ekani is the author of the recently published article entitled “Représenter la violence coloniale : Humanisme et chosification de l’Autre chez Mongo Beti et Ousmane Sembène.” (Representing Colonial Violence: Humanism and Objectification of the Other in Ousmane Sembene and Mongo Beti). Her essay has appeared  in a special issue of the Spain-based peer-reviewed journal of French and Francophone Studies Logosphère on “Representations” (Vol. 8, 2012).

Mba Ekani’s article discusses the representation of colonial violence in African fiction. Considered pioneers of Francophone African Literatures, Mongo Beti and Ousmane Sembene have dedicated their writing to the cause of the oppressed in colonial and post-colonial Africa. This article scrutinizes the representation of colonial violence in two of their novels in order to highlight two important elements: the aestheticization of colonial violence, and resistance as a mode of survival in occupied territories. Ultimately, the study contends that the fictional representation of colonial violence points to the possibility for the African people to fight for their freedom.

Ousmane Sembène during a visit to Berlin on November 18, 1987. © Günter Prust 1987


Mongo Beti

August 3, 2011

Senegal – A Year of Discovery

As someone who aspires to work with nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations to promote positive sustainable development, I knew international professional experience would be key to my future career success.  As an International Studies major with minors in French and African Studies, Senegal appeared to be the perfect location for me to go abroad. I signed up for a six month IE3 internship program with nongovernmental organization Tostan. Tostan is an organization which promotes positive social change through non-formal education in rural Senegal. I immediately fell in love with the work and the people and quickly realized six months was not nearly sufficient to get the sort of professional and cultural experience I was seeking. I quickly extended my trip another six months.

The second half of my internship was where I truly grew both professionally as well as personally. Senegal stopped being a new and shocking experience and started becoming “home.” That was when I truly began to connect with the culture and the people. I started out my internship as Assistant to the National Coordinator in the small city of Thies, Senegal. The work included writing village portraits and international donor reports in French and English. After three months in the position taking on odd jobs, I realized I wanted something with more direction and focus. I transferred departments and became project manager of a partnership focusing on microcredit and maternal health integration. I developed annual budgets, evaluated the first year of collaboration, planned the second, wrote reports, managed donor relations, planned and led project meetings, analyzed project sustainability, created solutions for project challenges, managed project personnel and worked directly with the community to conduct needs analyses.  Working so closely with the villagers not only opened my eyes to the realities and hardships of rural life in Senegal but also to the positive social and economic change which can occur when a community is given the tools to manage their own development. I now have a broader perspective on how people live, the realities of global poverty, and what people are capable of achieving when given the opportunity.

The 12 months I spent in Senegal have been the most important and fulfilling of my life. I have discovered my love of development work and have begun to sculpt my future career goals. With my graduation approaching quickly in December, I will be applying for a bilingual Master’s degree in International Development at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, Switzerland. My time spent in Senegal has helped shape my perspective and will continue to contribute and influence my future work.

Justine Jensen is a French minor in the Department of Romance Languages.