"Black is the Journey, Africana the Name"
with Maboula Soumahoro Associate professor- English Department of the University of Tours, Paris
Location: Columbia University's La Maison Française, Upstairs event room
Event Open to Columbia, Barnard & Columbia Affiliates, University COVID regulations must be followed. Masks Required
Presented in co-sponsorship: Critical Race Theory Seminar with Prof. Kendall Thomas, The Institute for Research in African-American Studies- Columbia University (IRAAS) & La Maison Française-Columbia University
Please join us at La Maison Française for a discussion of Maboula Soumahoro's book, "Black is the Journey, Africana the Name", as part of the Critical Race Theory Seminar taught by Columbia Law School Professor Kendall Thomas.
We will explore with the author the cultural and political relationships between the Black Atlantic, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. By drawing on her personal history with that of France and its abiding myth of color-blindness, Maboula Soumahoro will touch upon the banality and persistence of structural racism in France today. Finally, we will discuss how freedom can be found in the journey and movement between the sites of the Atlantic triangle.
Maboula Soumahoro is an associate professor in the English Department of the University of Tours. A specialist in the field of Africana Studies, Dr. Soumahoro has conducted research and taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France. She is the author of Le Triangle et l’Hexagone, réflexions sur une identité noire (La Découverte, 2021), translated in English by Dr. Kaiama L. Glover as “Black Is the Journey, Africana the Name” (Polity, 2021). This book received the FetKann! Maryse Condé literary prize in 2020.
In this highly original book, Maboula Soumahoro explores the cultural and political vastness of the Black Atlantic, where Africa, Europe, and the Americas were tied together by the brutal realities of the slave trade and colonialism. Each of these spaces has its own way of reading the Black body and the Black experience, and its own modes of visibility, invisibility, silence, and amplification of Black life. By weaving together her personal history with that of France and its abiding myth of color-blindness, Maboula Soumahoro highlights the banality and persistence of structural racism in France today, and shows that freedom will be found in the journey and movement between the sites of the Atlantic triangle. Africana is the name of that freedom.
How can we build and reflect on a collective diasporic identity through a personal journey? What are the limits and possibilities of this endeavor, when the personal journey is that of oft-erased bodies and stories, de-humanized lives, and when Black populations in Africa, the Americas, and Europe identify and misidentify with each other, their sensibilities shaped by the particular locales in which their lives unfold?
This book makes an important intellectual contribution to contemporary public conversations and theoretical inquiry into race, racism, blackness, and identity today, as it probes and questions the academic methodologies that have functioned as structures of exclusion.