Writing (across) borders

June 29 - July 1, 2021
5:00 - 6:45 pm (GMT +2)


What would you write if you were free? Writing about displacement, migration and diaspora pushes us to invent new forms that cross borders, whether chronological, geographical, disciplinary, or social. In recent years, many writers and theorists (notably in Black Diaspora & Feminist Studies) seeking to do so have developed new approaches to writing, often bridging the autobiographical and the theoretical, and often in defiance of nation-language borders and disciplinary containment. Similarly, an increasingly diverse community of translators have embraced their practice as a mode of border-crossing, both material and metaphorical. In this workshop, we will collectively explore the unbounded possibilities and forms our writing and translating can take. We will ask how such forms can reflect historical and contemporary borders that are the enduring legacies of colonialism and capitalism, and how they might help us better understand imbricated phenomena of displacement, exile, migration, refugeeism, and expatriation. We will share some of our own work as writers and translators along with examples of writing we find particularly inspiring, and we will invite participants to share short examples of their own writing. The goal will be to create a space within which to explore the question of what writing practices best allow us to do theoretical and interpretive work that both reflects and expands realms of movement and possibility.

Laurent Dubois is Professor of History and Co-Director of the Democracy Initiative at the University of Virginia. From 2007 to 2020, he was Professor of Romance Studies & History at Duke University, where he founded and directed the Forum for Scholars & Publics. He has written about the Age of Revolution in the Caribbean, with Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (2004) and A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 (2004), which won four book prizes including the Frederick Douglass Prize. His 2012 Haiti: The Aftershocks of History was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He has also written about the politics of soccer, with Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France (2010) and The Language of the Game: How to Understand Soccer (2018). His work on the cultural history of music, The Banjo: America's African Instrument (2016), was supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Humanities Fellowship, and a Mellon New Directions Fellowship. His most recent book is Freedom Roots: Histories from the Caribbean (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), co-authored with Richard Turits. His writings on music, history and sport have appeared in The Atlantic, The NationThe New RepublicThe New YorkerThe New York Times, Slate, and Sports Illustrated.

Kaiama L. Glover is Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French and Africana Studies and faculty director of the Digital Humanities Center at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of A Regarded Self: Caribbean Womanhood and the Ethics of Disorderly Being and of Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon, among other publications, and the prize-winning translator of several works of fiction and non-fiction. Kaiama is currently at work on a number of projects: For the Love of Revolution, an intellectual biography of radical Haitian writer René Depestre; an essay collection on "Blackness" in the French Atlantic; and a documentary film series focused on Black performing women's political utopias. Kaiama has been awarded grants from the PEN/Heim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Mellon Foundation, and she contributes regularly to the New York Times Book Review.

Maboula Soumahoro is an associate professor in the English department of the University of Tours, France, where she also received her PhD. A specialist in the field of Africana Studies (Atlantic), Dr. Soumahoro has conducted research and taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France: Bennington College, Columbia University (New York and Paris), Barnard College, Bard Prison Initiative (Bayview Correctional Facility), Stanford University (Paris), Sciences Po (Paris and Reims), the prisons in Bois-d’Arcy, Villepinte (juvenile detention), and Fresnes. From 2013 to 2016, Dr. Soumahoro served as a member of the National Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery. Since 2013, she is also the president of the Black History Month (BHM), an organization dedicated to the celebration of Black history and cultures throughout the world. Dr. Soumahoro is the author of Le Triangle et l’Hexagone, réflexions sur une identité noire (Black is the Journey, Africana the Name, La Découverte). This book was distinguished by the committee of the FetKann! Maryse Condé literary prize in 2020.