African Studies celebrates the contributions of Florence Bernault

Florence Bernault. (Submitted photo)

The African Studies Program congratulates and bids a fond farewell to longtime colleague Florence Bernault, who will be returning to her home country of France for a senior professorship in African History at the Institut d’études politiques (Sciences Po).

“Florence’s contributions to Africanist scholarship at UW-Madison have been immense,” said Neil Kodesh, director of the African Studies Program. “For more than 20 years, she continued the university’s long tradition of expertise in Central African history. Her presence will be sorely missed.”

Bernault’s research explores the history of religious and cultural changes in Equatorial Africa, and their echoes on the modern West. Her latest book, a co-edited volume on Postcolonial Ruptures: New Dynamics in French Society, looks at contemporary tensions in France over the legacies of the colonial past.  She now works on a history of cross-racial anxieties about personal capacity and spiritual agency in Gabon (West Africa).

Bernault said of her time at the African Studies Program, “I think what makes the program really special is the legacy of focusing not only on Anglophone, but also Francophone African history.”

Though she will be thousands of miles from UW-Madison, she is eager to continue building partnerships between Central Africa, Europe, and the United States through her research.

“I’d be really happy to expose people at Sciences Po and other institutions in France to the incredible expertise here at UW.”