Ousmane Sembene: Dialogues with Critics and Writers

Ousmane Sembene: Dialogues with Critics and Writers

Ousmane Sembene: Dialogues with Critics and Writers

Ousmane Sembene: Dialogues with Critics and Writers

Synopsis

Celebrates the work of Sembene, the African filmmaker and writer. This work contains critical essays on his oeuvre and is followed by a series of presentations by black writers. There are also remarks on his film Camp de Thiaroye, an interview, and a bibliography of Sembene's novels and films.

Excerpt

At the invitation of the Five College African Studies Council and with funds provided by Five Colleges, Inc., the great Senegalese filmmaker and novelist Ousmane Sembène came to the five campuses for the first two weeks of April 1990. the dialectic of Sembène's own personal biography and the forms of his creative work framed a motif for a conference culminating his visit, appropriately titled "The Dialectics of Form and Content in the Works of Ousmane Sembène," held at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst on April 14. We planned the conference to be the high point of his stay, where those students and faculty who had attended Sembène's appearances and film screenings during the previous two weeks would have a chance to hear scholarly analyses of his work and to witness his dialogues with writers from Africa and the diaspora. Furthermore, the evening session of this one-day conference provided the opportunity to stage the North American premiere of Sembène's 1989 film, "Camp de Thiaroye."

The heart of this volume is based on that day's presentations and dialogues. While the conference was the high point of Sembène's residency, his entire visit came after a decade of organization and cooperation that gave rise to the Five College African Studies program. the program had begun in earnest in 1980 as a forum for faculty in the Five College area to share their interests in Africa. the guiding principles of our collaboration from the beginning were that it would be a collective enterprise, it would be multidisciplinary, and it would close the gulf between African Studies and African-American Studies. the Sembène visit and conference celebrated these principles.

The readiness of editor Ernest Allen to publish the Ousmane Sembène Conference in its entirety in Contributions in Black Studies underscores the recognition of similar, even common, experiences and cultural roots of Africans and those of the African diaspora. Making sense of these commonalities was the central theme of writers, critics, and questioners at the conference. For the generation after World War ii, the interests, intellectual and political, of Africans and descendants of Africa in the diaspora, had been divided into distinct experiential and hermeneutic domains. On university campuses, African-American Studies had been legitimated within a context of the experience of African Americans in the Americas, while African Studies laid claim to the study of Africa itself emerging from colonial rule. This division of labor may have possessed a certain bureaucratic logic, but it had unfortunate cultural and political consequences. African-American Studies were divorced from African Studies; even the ethnic composition of those practicing in these two fields became . . .

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