Global Black French Studies across Time and Space


Global Black French Studies across Time and Space

The Formation and Future of the Field

October 3-6, 2024
Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA – USA

Convened by Jennifer Anne BoittinAudrey CélestineJacqueline CoutiRachel Jean-Baptiste,  Trica Keaton, and Lorelle Semley

Who, what, when, and where is Black France, and what is the current state of Black French Studies across geographies? Recent decades have seen an extraordinary growth and recognition of this academic field in the United States, but how has this formation been apprehended, resisted, and practiced beyond those shores? What is the state of Black French Studies, particularly in continental France where an idealized universalism is in constant tension with lived experiences and evidence-based analyses of race, Black life, blackness, and antiblackness?

At this critical inflection point in the growth and evolution of a field that defies boundaries, this conference seeks to explore these questions from a variety of perspectives. Indeed, Black French Studies encompasses a wealth of material and spans diverse periods and territories, ranging from pre-Atlantic life and black enslavement through the era of the Haitian revolution and its afterlife to present-day social justice mobilizations that refuse the enduring legacies and violence of coloniality.

These generative and defining pursuits have, however, largely been siloed across academies and geographies, despite the efforts of scholars, activists, creators, and communities in question to engage each other about various aspects of Black French Studies. This conference proposes to amplify these efforts while assessing the state of this dynamic field over time and space and across real and imagined borders.

We invite contributors to explore how their artistic creations, lived experiences, mobilizations, and research interests historicize, complicate, interrogate, and advance the field of Black French Studies within and beyond France.

We welcome 300-word abstracts in English or French by Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Please click here to upload your abstract. You will receive via email a submission confirmation. We anticipate subsidizing travel and lodgings and will follow up with additional information as it becomes available.

Gesturing to the breadth of the field, possible topics include:

  • Afro-French Feminisms, Gender, and its Broad Intersections
  • Arts and Creatives
  • Black French Futures
  • Black Joy: Liberatory Practices and Praxis
  • Causes and Consequences of Brain Drain
  • Colonial History and Afterlives
  • Decentering and/or the Significance of "Black Paris"
  • Digital Black French Studies
  • Ecocriticism and Environmental Racism
  • Enslavement, Marronnage, and Emancipation
  • Historicizing Black France
  • How to translate (or not) Black French Studies
  • Immigration and Migration
  • Language Politics, Practices, and Translation
  • Museum Curation and Studies
  • Pedagogical Approaches to the Teaching of Black France
  • Politics, Tensions, and Hegemonies in Black French Studies
  • Publishing and Information Dissemination
  • Queer and LGTBQI+ Lived Experience and Approaches
  • Race, Racialization, Racism, and Raceblindness in the Study of Black France
  • The Significance and/or Contestation of Black Americans and Black American Narratives
  • Social Advocacy, Justice, or Other Forms of Mobilization and Counter-discourses
  • Theorizing Black France and/or Black French Studies
  • Transoceanic Connections, Circulations, and Geographies
  • Urban and Rural Black Geographies: Public, Alternative, Hidden



Jennifer Anne Boittin is a historian in the departments of French and Francophone Studies, History, and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and author of Undesirable: Passionate Mobility and Women's Defiance of French Colonial Policing, 1919-1952.

Audrey Célestine is a social scientist in the department of History and the Institute for French Studies at New York University. She is the author of La fabrique des identités. L'encadrement politique des minorités caribéennes à Paris et New York.

Jacqueline Couti is a French and Francophone studies scholar affiliated with CAAASSWGS,  and ENST at Rice University.  Her work explores gender, race, sexuality, identity politics, ecocriticism, and nationalism in (French) transatlantic contexts. She is the author of Sex, Sea, and Self and Dangerous Creole Liaisons.

Rachel Jean-Baptiste is a historian of West and Equatorial Africa in the Department of History and Department of African and African American Studies and directs the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Stanford University.  She is the author of Multiracial Identities in Colonial-French Africa: Race, Childhood, and Citizenship.

Trica Keaton is an interdisciplinary social scientist in the department of African and African American Studies at Dartmouth College with affiliations in the departments of Sociology and Film and Media Studies. Her publications include #You Know You're Black in France When…: The Fact of Everyday Antiblackness.

Lorelle Semley is a historian of Africa and the African Diaspora in the department of History at Boston College and directs the African and African Diaspora Studies program. She is the author of To Be Free and French: Citizenship in France's Atlantic Empire.