Naminata Diabate

Naminata Diabate

Cornell University
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Naminata Diabate isis an associate professor of comparative literature at Cornell University. A scholar of gender, sexuality, and race, her most recent work on literary fiction, cinema, visual arts, and digital media has appeared in a monograph, peer-reviewed journals, and collections of essays, including Journal of the African Literature Association (2022, 2022), Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (2020), Routledge Handbook of African Literature (2019), African Literature Today ALT (2018), Critical Interventions (2017), Research in African Literatures (2016), and Fieldwork in the Humanities (2016). Her book, Naked Agency: Genital Cursing and Biopolitics in Africa, was published by Duke University Press in 2020 and awarded the African Studies Association 2021 Best Book Award and the African Literature Association 2022 First Book Prize. This year, she holds the Ali Mazrui Senior Research Fellowship at the Africa Institute of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, working on two monographs, “The Problem of Pleasure in Global Africa” and “Digital Insurgencies and Bodily Domains.”

Talk Information:

Notes Toward Naked Agency as Anti-Postcolonial Reading
September 9, 2022 | 9:00 AM

My reflections take as their point of departure, the act of public disrobing as a mode of conflict management, which multiple actors and social movements, including Black Lives Matter protesters, have mobilized. In lodging grievances in the current climate, conventional models of the Enlightenment-inflected and bourgeois-informed channels of participatory democracy—voting, participating in political parties, lobbying, and writing letters to politicians—no longer seem to suffice. Defiant disrobing or genital cursing, the last resort for some, however, offers mixed results with the deleterious and salutatory effects of the Internet. Here I meditate on how digitality disrupts the postcolonial reading framework that scholars offer in the name of the empire writing back. Departing from that cosmological framework, I suggest another way of reading, which I call naked agency and that highlights the ever unstable and unfolding nature of power relations, thus contributing to the ongoing debates on notions of subjectivity and agency.

For further reading:

Naminata Diabate (2022) Going a piece of the way with Carole Boyce Davies’s migrating subject: on open reading, naked agency, and Naked Athena, Journal of the African Literature Association, 16:2, 286-301,

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