‘Beyond French’ conference to explore ‘New Languages for African Diasporic Literature’

Authors and scholars from around the globe will gather at Yale University on Friday and Saturday, March 29 and 30, for an international conference titled “Beyond French: New Languages for African Diasporic Literature.”

The conference is free and open to the public. Unless otherwise indicated, the sessions will take place at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St.

“In recent years, Africans from former French colonies in both the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan regions have been settling in countries other than France and writing in languages other than French,” write the conference organizers. “This break with the colonial and postcolonial habits of la Françafrique — the familiar bind of metropole and colony — has been going on for years and is now ripe for analysis. Writing in German, Italian, Dutch, Catalan, Spanish, English, and other languages, these authors suggest new patterns of diasporic belonging and raise new questions about the postcolonial world."

Issues of immigration, language choice, cosmopolitanism, global citizenship, and world literature will be among the topics explored at the conference.

Friday’s program will include introductory remarks by the Yale professors who organized the conference, Edwige Tamalet Talbayev and Christopher L. Miller; a panel on “Diaspora and Transnational Affiliations”; and a plenary address titled “Afropeans: A Family of Nations?” by Dominic Thomas of the University of California–Los Angeles.

Saturday’s events will begin with a screening of “Io, L’altro” (“Me, the Other”), director Mohsen Melliti’s 2007 film about two fishermen — one Arab, the other Italian — and the friendship they form. This will be followed by a talk titled “Fishy Fishing: The Big Catch in Mohsen Melliti’s ‘Io, L’altro’” by Hakim Abderrezak of the University of Minnesota. This session will be held in the Romance Language Lounge on the third floor of 82-90 Wall St.

The program will continue with a panel on “Rewriting Postcoloniality” and conclude with a conversation with three authors: Pap Khouma, who was originally from Senegal, and now lives in Italy and writes in Italian; Rachida Lamrabet, who was originally from Morocco, and now lives in Belgium and writes in Dutch; and Anouar Majid, who was originally from Morocco, and now lives in the United States and writes in English.

Visit the conference website for more information about the participants and the schedule.

“Beyond French” is co-sponsored by Yale’s Department of French, the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Fund, Council on African Studies, Council on Middle East Studies, the Program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, Departments of Comparative Literature, Italian, and Germanic Languages and Literatures; and the Whitney Humanities Center.