2014 Project submitted by Duke University | Total costs of the project: $34.800 | Embassy of France support: $10.000
Director: Professor Helen Soltere
Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History
Administrative support is provided by the staff of the Romance Studies Department, and we have a graduate student assistant to help with organizing events.
The Center is funded half by support from the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University, and half by funding from French Cultural Services. The director is appointed by the Dean of the Humanities, usually in consultation with the Chair of Romance Studies. We work through with the Center for International Studies at Duke in coordinating our events and programs.
The Center sponsors and co-sponsors a variety of cross-disciplinary activities, including colloquia and workshops; visits by distinguished writers, scholars, joumalists, theater troupes, and researchers; screenings of the best new French films; and virtual and actual intellectual collaborations and exchanges with universities in France as well as other parts of the world. Our core partners at Duke, with whom we collaborate regularly on events, include the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image (for our film festivals), the Department of Romance Studies (where faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates working in French represent a core audience for our programs), and departments and institutes including the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and African and African-American Studies. Since the Fall of 2010, we have also organized a number of events in collaboration with the Haiti Laboratory of the Franklin Humanities Institute. Each year we host a journalist in collaboration with a program at the Sanford School of Public Policy. We also have collaborated with the schools of Law, Business, and Global Health on some projects.
MAIN RESEARCH THEMES
In the past years we have focused particularly on programming that deals in one way or another with what we call “Global France,” with a particular strength in Caribbean and African studies as well as issues around immigration and race in contemporary France. We have taken advantage of a number of initiatives on campus (including the Haiti Laboratory), the presence of AchilleMbembe (specialist on post-colonial Africa) as a regular visiting professor in Romance Studies, and a broader network of scholars interested in Caribbean and African topics at Duke. We have a particularly strength at Duke on Haiti, and in the past years have developed the most extensive Haitian Creole language program in the United States (offering 3 semester of the language) within the department of Romance Studies.
Our attempt in this programming is to bring broad and interdisciplinary perspectives – bridging literature, film, music, anthropology, history, social theory, and other areas – to understanding the long-term linkages between metropolitan France and the Caribbean, West and Central Africa, the Maghreb, the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia
After having had our long-standing journalist exchange program cut at the time of the budget crisis a few years ago, we developed a new program – funded for three years by the Duke University Provost – with a global focus, in which we will invite journalists working in French either from metropolitan France or from Haiti, West Africa, the Maghreb, or elsewhere. Our first guest in this program was Philippe Bernard, of Le Monde, who worked with students and faculty and spoke both of his work in Africa and of his writings on issues of immigration in contemporary France.
Our programming at CFFS is tightly linked to our teaching in the Romance Studies department, and all the visitors we have visit classes, attend dinners and lunches, and have informal discussions with undergraduate students during their time here. So the center’s work as a research center is also crucially tied to pedagogy and to forming students who will go on to work in France, Africa, the Caribbean or elsewhere. On the graduate level, a number of students in different disciplines – notably Romance Studies, History, and Anthropology – are working on topics surrounding the broad rubric of “Global France,” including representations of trauma in contemporary Francophone African literature, the publication of Creole fables in the nineteenth century Caribbean, the early years of Haitian independence, and the representation of immigration in contemporary graphic novels in France. Our programming draws on and informs the research of our graduate students.
We have also attempted to expand our public reach. Our film festival has long drawn a diverse audience from on and off campus. But in the past years we have also developed a series of lunchtime symposia about contemporary issues – most recently an event on “The Colonies Pay Back: Culture and Corruption in Franco-African Relations” and another entitled “France After the DSK Affair.” These have served to cultivate an audience both on campus and in the broader community interested in discussing France’s contemporary situation.
In the coming years, we would like to build on these initiatives in order to formalize connections we have with universities abroad, notably through a project we hope to propose to the PUF fund to link Duke, the UniversitéAntilles-Guyane (particularly the CRPLC research center in Martinique), and universities in Haiti in exploring the broade theme of emancipation and citizenship in the Caribbean. We are also exploring possibilities for linkages with universities in West Africa. In this way we hope to use the unique profile of our center at Duke University to create a network of exchanges that will further research and institutional development in the Caribbean and Africa.
Center for French and Francophone Studies
220 FranklinCenter / 2204 Erwin Road
Durham, NC 27708