A different type of talk happened in the Foster Auditorium in Paterno Library on Wednesday afternoon.
The African Studies program and the Department of French and Francophone studies hosted a panel discussion that focused on developments in the scholarships of Francophone and Anglophone African literature and culture.
“This discussion is what we in the African Studies program consider to be the beginning of a long journey,” B. Ikuboljeh Logan, the director of the African Studies Program, said.
Professor Emeritus of African, French and Comparative Literature Thomas Hale led the panelists in the discussion.
After the welcome and introductions, each panelist was given 10 minutes to discuss their backgrounds, research, and findings.
“Interdisciplinary means thinking outside the box in your own field and in relation to others,” Lorelle Semley, assistant professor of history at College of the Holy Cross said.
The panelists each focused on a different aspect of African literature, it’s relation to European literature and colonization, and it’s affects on the African Diaspora.
Kenneth Harrow, professor of African Literature and Cinema at Michigan State University, discussed African literature and lives of Africans who lived or grew up outside of Africa.
“These days I see African cultures as being created in large measures by those living abroad,” Harrow said.
To demonstrate his point, he read excerpts from Chimamanda Adichie’s book, “Half of a Yellow Sun” and Binyavanga Wainaina’s “One Day I Will Write About This Place”. He also showed clips from the Nollywood movie “Campus Queen”.
After the panel discussion audience members were allowed to ask the panelists questions and the discussion about the authenticity of colonized Africans and the African Diaspora continued.
“I think that part of the concern for authenticity come from a colonial aspect,” Harrow said. “It was colonists who defined the authentic African.”
Hale backed up Harrow’s point by noting how African academics are validated by Western academic influences that have been imposed on Africa.
“Africans are very more French than the French when it comes to governing their systems,” he said.