Wise, Christopher

  • Christopher Wise
  • Department of English, Western Washington University
  • Abstract Title: Yambo Ouologuem’s Le devoir de violence at 50

Abstract: Wise will discuss Yambo Ouologuem’s novel Le devoir de violence on the 50th anniversary of its publication, as well as the recent death of Ouologuem in Fall 2017. In his talk, Wise will focus on the historical events that Ouologuem’s novel originally responded to, but also more recent events in Northern and Central Mali after Azawad’s fall (i.e. in Timbuktu, Gao, Aguelhok, Kidal, Konna, and elsewhere). Born into a Dogon family that sided with the Tukuloor and Tijaniyya jihadist Al Hajj Umar Taal and his talibs, Ouologuem was keenly aware of the devasting impact of jihad upon the poorest and most vulnerable of Mali’s inhabitants (whom he calls the “négraille” in Le devoir de violence). His novel offered a prescient analysis of precolonial racism in the aftermath of the sectarian jihad that had caused so much human suffering, and that ended in the region’s colonization by the French. But his novel also speaks to the situation of Mali today following the Islamist jihad of the Ansar Dine, AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), MUJWA (Movement for African Oneness and Unity), the MLF (Masina Liberation Front) and others.  


Bio: Christopher Wise is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Western Washington University. His most recent books are Archive of The Umarian Tijaniyya and Sorcery, Totem, and Jihad in African Philosophy.  His book A la recherche de Yambo Ouologuem was also published in Paris, France this last year on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ouologuem’s Le devoir de violence (and following Ouologuem’s recent passing).