Common Experiences, Common Desires? Tracing an Intellectual History between China and Africa
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By Frieda Ekotto & Emily Goedde (U. of Michigan Ann-Arbor)
With the participation of Myriam Dao (Visual Artist, Paris)
Moderator : Pierre Stockinger (Inalco-FMSH)
In his 1954 presentation to dignitaries from across Asia and Africa, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai acknowledged the differences between the two cultural spheres; nevertheless, Zhou stressed a more important factor in all future relations should be the “common experiences and desires” of people from across the two continents to create a new world from the ashes of war and colonialism. Building on Zhou’s insight into commonalities of experience, this presentation will trace the cultural intersections that have existed between China and African since the 1920s. We will begin by exploring the rich commonalities in the intellectual work by Léopold Senghor and Lu Xun, both of whom were foundational thinkers in their countries’ engagements with colonialism and modernity. Second we will examine the cultural activities that began in the post-World War II period and developed into the 1960s, focusing particularly on the Chinese revolutionary poet, Tian Jian, who wrote a collection of poetry about his travels in Africa. Finally we will discuss the work of contemporary artist Myriam Dao, exploring how she brings to light her own perspectives on this common intellectual history.
Frieda EKOTTO has been a Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan since 1994. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Ford Foundation seed grant for research and collaborative work with institutions of higher learning in Africa. Dr. Ekotto has developed and taught a wide range of innovative courses on literature and law in France; literature and film in Africa, the Caribbean and Maghreb; postcolonial narratives by Francophone women and minorities; and representations of family and friendship in Francophone film and literature. She is the author of six books, three of them at l’Harmattan eds (Paris). She contributes regularly to Afrikadaa, an online magazine of contemporary African art. Her most recent book is entitled What Color is Black ? Race and Sex across the French Atlantic (Lexington Press, 2011). Professor Ekotto teaches regularly in China and has published numerous articles on cultural interactions between China and Africa. She received the Nicolàs Guillèn Prize for Philosophical Literature in 2014. She will be a Senior fellow (DEA programme) at the Fondation Maison des sciences de l’Homme from April 15 to May 15, 2014.
Emily GOEDDE is a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, where she focuses upon Chinese poetry from the 1930s and 40s. She draws from intersections between the fields of literature and sound studies to examine how sound is constructed and perceived across diverse cultural spaces. She received an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa, and her work has been published in 91st Meridian, The Iowa Review, eXchanges and Discoveries: New Writing from The Iowa Review, as well as in the anthology Jade Mirror: Women Poets of China (White Pine Press, 2013).
Myriam DAO is a Visual Artist. Architect by training, she also has a Master in Cultural Geography (EHESS). Her work questions her intimate history and geography, that of « Eurasia ». She seeks to present two kinds of truths: the truth of the body or physical space and that of the imagination. So she juxtaposes pictures from the Archive as well as pictures from her own ethnographical and vernacular personal corpus. Myriam Dao received an award: Villa Medicis hors les murs (1995). Her work has been shown at many exhibitions in France, such as: Is Yellow Black or White? #2 Parcours d’art contemporain «Les uns chez les autres» Paris (2013); Is Yellow Black or White? #1 Mois de la Photo-OFF Paris (2012); Le regard éloigné – Bibliothèque Claude Lévi-Strauss Paris (2011); J’interviens – Galerie Le 29 – Mois de la Photo-OFF Paris (2010).
Peter STOCKINGER has been Full Professor of cognitive semantics, semiotics of culture, discourse semiotics, new information technologies and (new) media studies at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris, France since 1990, Director of the R&D lab Equipe Sémiotique Cognitive et Nouveaux Medias (ESCoM) at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH) in Paris, France (since 1991) and Vice-director of the Intercultural Communication Centre of INALCO (Institut National des Langues et Civlisations Orientales) in Paris, France (Since 2004).Since 2012, he is the Head of the MA program « Communication, Information and (New) Media Studies » at INALCO. Among his last publications : Introduction to Audiovisual Archives, J. Wiley & Sons, ed. (NY 2011) and Audiovisual Archives: Digital Text and Discourse Analysis; J. Wiley & Sons (NY 2012).
Coordination scientifique : F. Ekotto (Pr. University of Michigan Ann-Arbor) & A. Galitzine-Loumpet (ANR EsCA/FMSH).