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About Djaïli Amadou Amal and Fabienne Kanor

"Les Impatientes" by Djaïli Amadou Amal, and "Humus" by Fabienne Kanor



12 PM Eastern Time - 11 AM Central Time - 18:00 GMT +1 

Djaïli Amadou Amal was born in 1975 in Diamaré in the far north region of Cameroon and grew up in Maroua, the capital city of that department. Djaïli Amadou Amal is a Fula (or Peul) author and activist fighting for women’s rights. She heads her own organization for this cause, Femmes du Sahel, whose goal is to promote the education of women and development with a special emphasis on raising awareness and putting a stop to violence committed against the women of her region. She is the author of three books: Walaande: l'art de partager un mari (2010), Mistiriijo: la mangeuse d'âmes (2013), and Munyal, les larmes de la patience (2017) which were all published in Cameroon. Munyal was reworked by the author following a proposotion from Editions Emmanuelle Collas in Paris and published in 2020 with a new title, Les Impatientes. It is this version that was shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt and soon thereafter won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens. Djaïli Amadou Amal is considered the first Muslim Cameroonian writer to attain international acclaim. The novel is about three young women, Ramla, her sister Hindou, and Safira who is the co-wife of Ramla. Each are from well-to-do families but have nonetheless been subject to forced marriages, polygamy, and conjugal violence and left with little recourse to change their situation. This book is a powerful read about the damage certain traditions can have on women who fear shame, loss of honor, and repudiation not just for themselves but for their entire families. The only advice the main female characters receive before embarking on their lives as wives is this: Have patience and be submissive to your husband. This novel features some of the women who have grown “impatient” with such oppression that dominates their lives.

During a visit to the archives, Fabienne Kanor read a logbook in which was reported an incident dating from 1774: fourteen unnamed African women jumped overboard into the sea to escape their enslavement. Fusing her journalistic, literary, and visual virtuosity, Kanor published Humus in 2006 to give a fictional voice to these fourteen women. Humus examines what can be painful and powerful when black bodies are positioned at the crossroads of dehumanization and self-resilience, just as it represents the complex frameworks that police, politicize, and imagine black bodies. This presentation examines the transgressive aesthetics found in Humus’ violent embodied experiences, complex experiential negotiations and identity formations. More specifically, how the difficult “seeing” of black female bodies in pain serves as an invitation to engage in an uncomfortable but necessary conversation about invisible or silenced traumas, all the while challenging conventional perception of genres.

Fabienne Kanor is a notable francophone writer, filmmaker, activist, and scholar. Maryse Condé, the illustrious Guadeloupean novelist and recipient of the 2018 Alternative Nobel literature prize, named Fabienne Kanor her “beloved literary daughter.” In fact, Kanor is one of the foremost figures of the emerging generation of Caribbean filmmakers and writers after Aimé Césaire, Maryse Condé, Édouard Glissant, Euzhan Palcy, and Derek Walcott. The latter have been influential forces in her body of work. In 2010, Kanor was named Chevalier de l’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French minister of culture; she is the author of fourteen documentary films, nine novels, eight audio documentaries, two movies, two plays, four short stories, and numerous critical essays and live performances. In 2020, the much-anticipated English translation of Humus was published.

Cheryl TOMAN

Cheryl Toman is currently the Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Classics and Professor of French at The University of Alabama. Toman’s interdisciplinary research focuses on Francophone women writers from Subsaharan Africa and specifically those from Cameroon, Gabon, and Mali. She is the author of two books, Women Writers of Gabon: Literature and Herstory (Lexington 2016) and Contemporary Matriarchies in Cameroonian Francophone Literature (Summa 2008). She is the translator of Justine Mintsa’s Awu’s Story (University of Nebraska Press 2018) and Thérèse Kuoh-Moukoury’s Essential Encounters (MLA Texts and Translations Series 2002). She has edited three collections of essays and served as guest editor for three special issues including the most recent volume of Women in French Studies on the Francophone Central African Woman Writer. Her articles appear in journals such as Research in African Literatures, Journal of the African Literature Association, Women’s Studies International Forum, Meridians, and Feminist Studies among others and she is the book review editor for Women in French Studies. In 2016, she was named President of the Biennale de la Langue Française, a 55-year old professional organization headquartered in Paris promoting the cultural and linguistic diversity of the French language. She is also a two-time Fulbright Scholar and the recipient of a Brown Foundation Fellowship from the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. In 2020, she was named Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.


Gladys M. Francis is Associate Professor of Africana, Francophone, theory, and cultural studies at Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA). She explores issues of identify formation, resilience, race and ethnicity, gender-based violence, trauma, and social cohesion. Her research offers a reading together of the literary, cinematic, and performing arts to arrive at a transdisciplinary conversation in post/colonial, cultural, women’s, sex and gender, and Africana studies. Francis is the director of graduate studies as well as the director of the French and Francophone studies program in her home department. She also served as the inaugural director of the Africana Studies Center and beforehand as the director of the South Atlantic Center in the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Francis counts various significant international collaborative projects (i.e. with the Mandela Washington Fellowship Initiative, the Ministry of European Affairs, the International Migration Institute at The University of Oxford). She is the recipient of numerous research grants, awards (i.e. the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Diversity Award, two Endowed Chairs in the Humanities, several Outstanding Teaching Awards), and fellowships (in Africa and the Caribbean). Dr. Francis has published over 40 articles on her research interests. Her books include Odious Caribbean Women and the Palpable Aesthetics of Transgression (2017) and Amour, sexe, genre et trauma dans la Caraïbe francophone (2016). She is currently concluding an anthology titled Fabienne Kanor In Transgression: Documenting and Performing the Insufferable. Her forthcoming articles include “Remapping Disability through Contested Urban Landscapes and Embodied Performances” (Cambridge University Press, 2021) and “Performing While Black: Disrupting Gender and Sexuality from Trinidad to Norway” (The University of Toronto Press, 2021). (Email: gfrancis5@gsu.edu)

Anny-Dominique CURTIUS

Anny-Dominique Curtius is Associate Professor of Francophone Studies at the University of Iowa where she also served as the Director of the working groups “Museum Futures” and “Circulating Cultures” at the Obermann Center for Advanced studies. Her research is interdisciplinary as it circulates at the crossroads of cultural theory, cinematic, visual, and performing arts of the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and West Africa, ecocriticism, comparative postcolonial museum studies, critical ocean studies, and intangible cultural heritage. She is the author of two books Suzanne Césaire. Archéologie littéraire et artistique d'une mémoire empêchée (2020), Symbioses d’une mémoire: Manifestations religieuses et littératures de la Caraïbe (2006), as well as numerous articles and book chapters in the fields of studies aforementioned. Her book in progress explores how memory communities are formed in new museums and memorials, and how subjectivities are impacted and challenged through the postcolonial and ecocritical narrativization of trauma and memory.

Event coordinated by the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Georgia State University in Atlanta, the University of Iowa and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States - Atlanta Office.