Imagining the Middle Passage: Slavery, Race, and the Making of the Diaspora in Contemporary Francophone African Cinematic Art

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1155 Observatory Drive Madison, WI 53706, 206 Ingraham Hall
@ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Africa at Noon

Speaker: Fabienne Kanor

Time: 12:00 pm- 1:00 pm

Venue: 206 Ingraham Hall

Born in France to Caribbean parents, Dr. Fabienne Kanor is a Marian Trygve Freed Early Career Professor in the department of French and Francophone Studies and an Associate- Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. An award-winning writer and filmmaker, she has directed several movies and published 8 books, including among others D’eaux Douces (2004), Humus (2006), Je ne suis pas un homme qui pleure (2016), Louisiane (2020), La poétique de la cale : variations sur le bateau négrier (October 2022), a transdisciplanary monography  in which she examines the way the experience of the Middle Passage is represented in contemporary literary, cinematographic and artistic productions of Francophone Africa, the French West Indies and the United States. In January 2024, she will publish La grande chambre, a play about 3 displacements: The transatlantic slave trade, the migration from the Caribbean to France and the Sub-Saharan migration to France. 

She is the author of numerous academic articles such “Autopsy of a French Black woman” in African Women in Digital Spaces: Redefining Social Movements on the Continent and in the Diaspora, edited by Msia Kibona Clark and Mkuki Bgoya. Tanzania: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Spring 2023, or La grande hanchue in Nouvelles Etudes Francophones, Numéro 35.2, Fall 2022. 

Awarded by French Minister of Culture Chevalier des Arts & des Lettres, Kanor devotes her career to studying Race and Gender in France and in The French West Indies and West African Migrations in France. An attempt to tell the untold and show the hidden and the forgotten, part of her work deals with the traumatic effects of the transatlantic slave trade on the Africans and African descents. She has translated in French the Zora Neale Hurston’s book Barracoon, the Story of the « Last Cargo » (March 2019) and the new Wole Soyinka’s novel Chronicles from the Land of Happiest People on Earth (to be released in August 2023).  

With the same desire to fill the blanks of colonial history, and with the partnership of The Museum d’Aquitaine The Foundation for Remembrance of Slavery and The Institut des Afriques, in France, she is currently developing a series of experimental documentaries, « Les contes de la cale » related to the transatlantic slave trade and more specifically to the hold of the slave ship. Entitled Et le grand trou noir où je voulais me noyer, the first episode (42’) of her series will be shown in May 2023, at the festival Cine Africano de Tangiers-Tarifa, in Morrocco and Spain, and at the Museum of Aquitaine (Bordeaux).  

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies (CIFS).