Stack of hands

Event description

Today, the continent with the most French speakers in the world is Africa. African authors, such as Ananda Devi and Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, are profoundly reinventing the French language, picking up Paris’ most prestigious literary prizes along the way. And given the rapid demographic growth of the continent, the legacy of the French language is increasingly and inevitably entwined with African stories and realities. In spite of this, the representation of Africa in French departments across the globe remains poor and problematic. In the United States, for example, the majority of departmental resources are devoted to literature and culture from France, while all the other regions of the world where the French language thrives— a dazzling diversity of deserts and oceans, of cities and archipelagoes — is indiscriminately lumped into a single “Francophone” category.  African texts written in French that do make it into curricula are judged against Eurocentric benchmarks and studied for their "anthropological" value rather than for their creative and stylistic innovations. My presentation will unpack and explore these dissonances. What are the scholarly, ethical and pedagogical implications of a continued gaze towards Europe, when Francophones across the globe have long demonstrated the rich and often contradictory dimensions of the French language and the stories it tells? How might we reimagine the ways in which the language is taught and studied? What new resonances might the concepts of “leadership”, “equity” and “inclusion”  then acquire? 

Nikhita Obeegadoo

Professor Nikhita Obeegadoo

University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO)

Nikhita Obeegadoo is an Assistant Professor of Francophone Studies and African Transcultural Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO). She holds a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University as well as a BS in Computer Science and a BA in Comparative Literature from Stanford University. Her current book project, “Silence of the Seabed,” explores contemporary literatures of oceanic migration in the Indian Ocean and Caribbean. Drawing from poetry and fiction written in English, French, Spanish and Hindi, it argues that while the colonial archives of traumatic oceanic crossings are skewed and incomplete, writers re-imagine these crossings from subaltern and ecological perspectives, thus fostering richer engagements with migratory history and the oceanic environment.

Follow Professor Obeegadoo on Twitter @nikhitaob.

Nikhita Obeegadoo
Date and time

August 22, 2022

From 1 PM to 2:30 PM

Location

Learning Crossroads (CRX 410)

Language

Bilingual : French and English

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