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About this seminar

Join us for this exciting new series "The Object Seminar: Breaking Boundaries" led by Nathalie Etoke, entitled “Object to Subject: Afro Diasporic French Identities.” The seminar is free and open to the public, but to attend, please RSVP here.

Object to Subject: Afro Diasporic French Identities

How do black individuals address the conundrums of inclusion and exclusion, acceptance and rejection in France? How do they navigate a racialized space that denies the existence of race? What are their thoughts on French national identity? What do they think about the portrayal of black people in the media? What is their relationship to Africa, to the memory of colonization and slavery? How do they deal with racism? Self-examination is the core component of Afro Diasporic French Identities, a documentary that I directed in 2011. By definition, race and racism set up a hierarchy of power through which human beings are objectified and oppressed based on the color of their skin. In the context of this seminar, I will look at the ways in which documentary can be used as an object that renders black subjectivities visible while questioning the universalist French narrative of citizenship. Outside of discourses on immigration, integration, religion or juvenile delinquency, the black experience does not exist in the French imagination. Despite having French citizenship, the individual whose physical features connect her to far-off lands is objectified with the following adjectives: “foreigner”, “immigrant”, and “black/noir (e)”. Through a series of interviews grounded on reflexive jazz esthetics that blend music, multiple voices, dance, spoken word and performance, Afro French Diasporic Identities addresses the racializing of citizenship and the hermeneutics of the lived experience of black people in France. The documentary operates as a theoretical object that creates a space where I investigate the specificities, challenges, and contradictions that race and citizenship represent at this juncture in French society.

About The Object Seminar: Breaking Boundaries

What happens when we incorporate the non-human material world into academic conversations? As part of the Object Library's ongoing inquiry into routes to knowledge beyond traditional methods and existing discourses, this series of seminars co-presented with Henri Peyre French Institute invites the public to join us in study once again, taking material culture as our point of departure. With topics ranging across new areas of research, each presenter is encouraged to bring-a-thing-along or propose an object that might sit in creative tension with the seminar discussion. All are welcome, but a commitment to attend is necessary, as is reading in advance any materials supplied. The final event, held in the Object Library, will lodge seminar-related objects—both suggested by seminar attendees in response to our conversations or brought along to the final session—into our temporary installation, 365 Things. The Henri Peyre French Institute is proud to organize this seminar series in conjunction with the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY and its Object Library project. The Henri Peyre French Institute is dedicated to promoting a broad, transdisciplinary, and transnational understanding of major cultural issues across French and Francophone studies through public programs concerning the arts, history, society and politics. This current seminar series seeks to showcase work in these areas that breaks disciplinary boundaries, asks new questions, and alters current paradigms.

All events take place at the Graduate Center, CUNY from 5-7PM.

March 8: Frédéric Baitinger, room 9207
March 22: Raphaël Liogier, room 9207
May 3: Nathalie Etoke, French Lounge
May 8: Stephanie Grace Petinos, room 9206
May 10: Jasmine Narcisse, Object Library, followed by special event

For more information about this seminar series, click here.

The Object Seminar: Breaking Boundaries series is co-organized and sponsored by the Henri Peyre French Institute, and The Object Library from the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY.