01 Feb The Postcolonial Afterlife of Sarah Baartman: African Women’s Discourses of the Female Body
Ayo A. Coly (Comparative Literature and African Studies at Dartmouth College)
Wednesday, February 1, 2017 / 4:00 PM
McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB
In a recently published essay, Ayo A. Coly has argued that the colonial rhetorical deployment of the African female body to signify Africa sealed the fate of the African female body as rhetorical element of postcolonial African discourses. Building on this work, her talk ties the elusive presence if not absence of the sexual female body in African feminist thought to the postcolonial discursive conscription of the female body. She argues that the female body is a timescape where African feminist criticism both contests and produces “the idea of Africa.” Furthermore, the timescape of the female body is haunted by colonial discourses of the hypersexual African female body, in particular the specter of Sarah Baartman. Using Derrida’s work on hauntology and spectrality as an interpellation of the haunted subject into a potentially emancipatory future-anterior timescape, she will asses the epistemological merits and pitfalls of an African feminist imagining, thinking and writing of Africa from the haunted timescape of the female body. In interrogating the afterlife of Sarah Baartman in African feminist thought, Coly takes her cue from the conspicuous absence of the sexual female body in African feminist thought to ask whether thinking from a haunted timescape does not eventually limit the discursive, epistemological and political horizon of African feminist thought.
Ayo A. Coly is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and African Studies at Dartmouth College. Her research areas include postcolonial discourses, African literatures and visual cultures, and gender and sexuality in Africa. She is the author of The Pull of Postcolonial Nationhood: Gender and Migration in Francophone African Literatures (2010). She has guest-edited a special issue of Callaloo on “The Cultures and Letters of the Black Diaspora” (2007) and The African Studies Review on “Homophobic Africa?” (2013). Her
publications have appeared in Culture, Theory and Critique, Research in African Literatures, The African Studies Review, The Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Third Text, The Canadian Journal of Comparative Literature, and Nottingham French Studies. She has just completed a book manuscript entitled The Afterlife of Colonial Statements: African Women’s Discourses of the Female Body. She is now working on two book projects. The first is on Congolese and French writer Alain Mabanckou. The second looks at homosexuality and homophobia in Senegal as political fabrications.
Sponsored by the IHC’s African Studies RFG