Following the launch of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies in January 2016, we have invited heads of other Postcolonial Studies research institutes, centres and networks to share information about their current research activities and to enter into the debate about the future of the field. Responding to our questions, Dr Louise Hardwick (University of Birmingham) highlights the initiatives led by the FRANCOPOCO Network and the importance of languages within the field of Postcolonial Studies.
What is your research background?
I am a Modern Linguist by training, and studied French and German for my BA. I opted to write a Final Year dissertation on Francophone literature – and was hooked! From then on, I chose to focus on Francophone literature from my M.St and D.Phil research.
During my Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, I launched a fortnightly Francophone Postcolonial Seminar, and I wanted to create a similar forum when I arrived as a Lecturer at the University of Birmingham in 2010. With a group of colleagues at Birmingham, I launched the Francophone Colonial and Postcolonial Network, or FRANCOPOCO Network for short.
By David MurphyA view of the Musée Dynamique from the Corniche ouest in Dakar (Fonds Jean Mazel; Collection PANAFEST Archive)
The First World Festival of Negro Arts, which ran from 1-24 April 1966, was organised against the backdrop of African decolonisation and the push for civil rights in the US. More than 2,500 artists, musicians, performers and writers gathered in Dakar, and the festival spanned literature, theatre, music, dance, film, as well as the visual/plastic arts. It was hailed by many commentators as the inaugural cultural gathering of the black world.
An exhibition at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, Dakar 66: Chronicle of a Pan-African Festival, is currently marking the 50th anniversary of the event. Using photographs, rarely seen documentary films and newly filmed interviews with participants, it captures the festival’s idealism and its practical successes but does not shy away from its entanglement in Cold War politics, or the later rejection of its cultural politics at more radical Pan-African festivals in Algiers (1969) and Lagos (1977).