Diawara, Manthia

  • Manthia Diawara
  • University Professor, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
  • Abstract Title: Global African Studies: Some Thoughts from Edouard Glissant

Abstract: In this presentation, I want to argue for the relevance of Edouard Glissant's theory of "Tout-monde" to the "Global African Studies. Glissant, a Caribbean poet and philosopher, is well known for his theories of "Creolization" and "relation," as well as concepts like "Opacity" "trembling Thoughts," "Becoming" and "Solidarity of Intuitions."

With the theory of "Tout-monde," (often translated as "All Worlds," or simply as "One World in Relation," Glissant’s hypothesis is that the world has become united unexpectedly and against the will of the former colonizers whose intentions were to "discover" foreign lands, conquer and colonize them, in order to exploit them. Glissant has also referred to this newly connected world, this new totalization against the Eurocentric definition of the world, as the new "Baroque," or "Chaos-monde," made possible by the advent of modern technological innovations and the movements of decolonization.

If the aesthetics and philosophies of the Tout-monde" are such that every voice demands to be heard as an echo of our newly formed solidarities, what are the implications of this to the global African studies' project?

Bio: Manthia Diawara is a writer, filmmaker, cultural theorist, scholar and art historian. Diawara holds the title of University Professor at New York University, where he is Director of the Institute of African American Affairs.

Diawara was born in Bamako, Mali and received his early education in France. He later received a Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1985. Prior to teaching at NYU, Diawara taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Much of his research has been in the field of black cultural studies, though his work has differed from the traditional approach to such study formulated in Britain in the early 1980s. Along with other notable recent scholars, Diawara has sought to incorporate consideration of the material conditions of African Americans to provide a broader context for the study of African diasporic culture. An aspect of this formulation has been the privileging of “Blackness” in all its possible forms rather than as relevant to a single, perhaps monolithic definition of black culture.

Diawara has contributed significantly to the study of black film. In 1992, Indiana University Press published his African Cinema: Politics & Culture and in 1993, Routledge published a volume he edited titled Black American Cinema. A filmmaker himself, Diawara has written and directed a number of films.

His 1998 book In Search of Africa is an account of his return to his childhood home of Guinea and was published by Harvard University Press. Diawara is a founding editor of Black Renaissance Noire, a journal of arts, culture and politics dedicated to work that engages contemporary Black concerns. He serves on the advisory board of October, and is also on the editorial collective of Public Culture. In 2003, Diawara released We Won’t Budge: A Malaria Memoir, the title a tribute to Salif Keita’s anthemic protest song Nou Pas Bouger.