What (is) Universalism? Planetary Poetics and an Ecology of the Cosmos: A Conversation between Maboula Soumahoro and Brigitte Stepanov

November 7, 2023, 9:45 am - 10:45 am

GT-Europe Library and Online via Zoom

Event local time: 3:45 – 4:45 p.m. (Paris time)

Join us for an (eco)critical discussion about universalism, planetary understandings of "world," and being and belonging in the "era of the Anthropocene."

Co-sponsored by the School of Modern Languages and Atlanta Global Studies Center.

About the Speakers

Brigitte Stepanov is an assistant professor of French and Francophone studies at Georgia Tech and a 2023-2024 Energy Equity, Environmental Justice, and Community Engagement Faculty Fellow. She writes and teaches about how categories of being, knowledge, and aesthetic forms are stretched and blurred by violence against land and life, and in turn, how ontologies and epistemologies are shaped by violent events. This thinking is inseparable from the weaponization of energy in conflict and the ecological consequences of war. In her current book project, Cruelty, War, Fiction: Redefining the In-Human, she dissects, through legal and literary frames, martial violence witnessed in Algeria, Rwanda, and France. Trained as a mathematician and a scholar of French and Francophone Studies, she finds herself at the intersection of several disciplines, each lending a lens through which to view our present and its shifting paradigms. She is the founder and director of the Energy Today Lab, an interdisciplinary research hub that reflects creatively and analytically on the energy – broadly defined from labor to thermodynamics – of our contemporary world.

Maboula Soumahoro is an associate professor at the University of Tours and president of the Black History Month Association, dedicated to celebrating Black history and cultures. A specialist in the field of Africana Studies, she has conducted research and taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France and was most recently the inaugural Villa Albertine Resident in Atlanta (2021-2022). From 2013 to 2017, Soumahoro served as a member of the National Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery. She is the author of Le Triangle et l’Hexagone, réflexions sur une identité noire, translated in English by Kaiama L. Glover as Black Is the Journey, Africana the Name and prefaced by Saidiya Hartman. This book was distinguished by the FetKann! Maryse Condé Literary Prize in 2020. In 2022-2023, Maboula Soumahoro will be an international visiting professor at the African-American and Africana Studies Department of Columbia University as well as a visiting faculty at Bennington College. In 2023-2024 she is a fellow at the Columbia University Institute for Ideas and Imagination. She translated from English À perte de mère – Sur les routes atlantiques de l’esclavage (original title: Lose Your Mother. A Journey Along The Atlantic Slave) released in September 2023.

French Biography: Maboula Soumahoro a obtenu un doctorat en civilisations du monde anglophone. Elle est aujourd’hui spécialiste en études étatsuniennes, africaines-américaines africaines et de la diaspora noire/africaine. Maîtresse de conférences à l’université de Tours (France), elle a également étudié et enseigné au sein de nombreux autres établissements scolaires et pénitentiaires en France et aux États-Unis : Bennington College, Columbia University (New York et Paris) et Barnard College, Bard Prison Initiative, Stanford University (Paris), Sciences Po (Paris et Reims), les prisons de Bois-d’Arcy, Villepinte (quartier des mineurs) et Fresnes. Ellea été résidente de la Villa Albertine à Atlanta entre novembre 2021 et janvier 2022.De 2013 à 2016, Maboula Soumahoro a été membre du Comité National pour l’Histoire et la Mémoire de l’Esclavage (CNMHE). Depuis 2013, Maboula Soumahoro préside l’association Black History Month (BHM), dédiée à la célébration de l’histoire et des cultures du monde noir.Elle est notamment l’autrice du Triangle et l’Hexagone : réflexions sur une identité noire (La Découverte 2020) traduit en anglais sous le titre Black is the Journey, Africana the Name (Polity,2021) et qui a reçu la mention spéciale du Prix Littéraire FETKANN! Maryse Condé en 2020.En 2022-2023, Maboula Soumahoro est professeure internationale invitée au département des études afro-américaines et africaines de l’Université de Columbia ainsi que professeure invitée au Bennington College. Son année 2023-2024 se déroulera à l’Institut des idées et de l’imagination de l’Université Columbia.Elle traduit de l’anglais À perte de mère – Sur les routes atlantiques de l’esclavage (titre original : Lose Your Mother. A Journey Along The Atlantic Slave Route, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) sorti en septembre 2023 (Brook).

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Brigitte Stepanov