A three-day symposium examining how, since colonial times, globalization has shaped (black) women’s ideas of self and how their bodies and identities have been framed by non-black men and women.

Rice University
October 17-19
Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall  
Free and open to the public

This symposium seeks to articulate a new and inclusive methodology grounded in black women’s experiences in French and francophone post/imperial contexts in the interest of benefiting not only scholars in the social sciences and humanities, but those in fields such as public policy, urban planning and data science, among others.

Discussions will lay the groundwork for an international conference, Des féminismes noirs francophones? Théories, histoires, expériences (what is black feminism in francophone contexts?) The Paris conference will take place March 3–5, 2020, at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences).

The Rice symposium and subsequent Paris conference mark a watershed moment in the reconceptualization of French and Francophone Studies. A holistic history of French and francophone black womanhood in its plurality simply does not exist. The activism and resistance of millions of women linger in oblivion, outside commonly known and taught historical narratives, overlooked even by experts.

What better time to start such thorny discussions, explore the development of innovative paradigms on the interactions of race, gender and power, and ask new questions within existing methodologies?

Symposium Schedule

Thursday, October 17

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall
4 p.m., Welcome
Remarks By Kathleen Canning
Dean, School of Humanities
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of History

4:30 p.m.- 6 p.m., Plenary Session
What is Black Feminism in Francophone Contexts Post/Imperial Contexts?

Friday, October 18

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall
3 p.m. – 5 p.m., Reframing Afrofeminisms in French Post/Imperial Contexts, Part I: France, Frenchness, Blackness and Femininity

Session I
Roundtable around the collective publication Black French Feminism and Struggle for Equality:

Silyane Larcher, “Marianne is also Black! Black Women and the Boundaries of the French National Discourse”

Robin Mitchell, Shaking the Racial and Gender Foundations of France: The Influences of “Sarah Baartman” in the Production of Frenchness

Tyler Stovall, “A Black Woman’s Life in the Struggle: Jean McNair in France”

(Break 15 minutes)

Session II

Robin Mitchell, “Vénus Noire: Black Women and Colonial Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century France”

Mame-Fatou Niang, “French Identities: Banlieues, Femininities and Universalism”

Saturday, October 19

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall
10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Reframing Afrofeminisms in French Post/Imperial Contexts, Part II: Blackness, Frenchness, French Colonial Heritage and Femininity Outside of Continental France

Session I

10 a.m. (in French and English)

  • Rose Ndengue, “Comment rendre audible la voix des femmes au Cameroun » (« How to Make Sure the Voices of Cameroonian Women Will Be Heard »)
  • Myriam Paris, « Un féminisme anticolonial: l’Union des femmes de La Réunion (1946-1981) » (« Anticolonial feminism: the Union of Women of Reunion Island »)
  • Lucia Direnberger, « Construction et diffusion du savoir sur le genre en contexte post-colonial. Retour sur Experiences » (“Construction and dissemination of Gendered Knowledge and Knowledge on Gender in Post-Colonial Context: Exploring Lived Experiences”)


Session II

11:30 a.m.

Jacqueline Couti, “Lumina Sophie, Flame of Insurrection: feminist rewriting of 19th-century Martinican Women Insurgent »

Anny Curtius, “Calypso Rose and Suzanne Césaire: ‘Black Models’ at the Musée d’Orsay?”

Jennifer Boittin, “The Great Game of Hide and Seek Has Worked: A Caribbean Mosaic of Gendered Race Consciousness around World War II”

Session III

Herzstein Hall Amphitheatre

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Viewing of the documentary Mariannes Noires and discussion

Mame-Fatou Niang’s documentary film Mariannes Noires (2016) examines the relationship between memory and citizenship in today’s France through a mix of news clips, art performances, and interviews. The film follows seven French women of African and Afro- Caribbean descent—filmmakers, dancers, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals whose “French-ness” is rooted in metropolitan France as well as Africa and its many diasporas. Without a doubt, these women are French. But their “French-ness” entails cultural and aesthetic differences that today’s French Republic still struggles to accept. Mariannes Noires is a mosaic of narratives that raise the veil on multicultural France.


Organized by Jacqueline Couti, Ph.D., the Laurence H. Favrot Associate Professor of French Studies and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality

Rice sponsors: Department of Classical and European Studies; Center for African and African American Studies; Creative Ventures; Humanities Research Center; and the School of Humanities