forthcoming event

Upcoming Event: Dr Sarah Arens, ‘From Mobutu to Molenbeek: Writing Postcolonial Brussels’

24th November 2020

SFPS is pleased to share that Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies editor Dr. Sarah Arens will be presenting a research paper, via Zoom, for the Centre for Modern European Literature at the University of Kent, on Thursday 26th November at 5pm GMT.  Please see below for sign-up details.

From Mobutu to Moolenbeek: Writing Postcolonial Brussels

Brussels is a city of contradictory and shifting identities. It is home to Eurocrats and terrorist suspects, to Flemish nationalists and African migrant communities. It was once the capital of an infamous colonial empire and it was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. This multitude of narratives and memories is reflected in diasporic writing about the city, which, in contrast to other major European cities, has so far escaped any sustained academic attention.

Focusing on a single case study, Moroccan-Belgian writer Saber Assal’s 2000 novel A l’ombre des gouttes (‘In the Shadow of the drops’), this talk will discuss the use of images and photographs in the text to investigate how the narrative connects disparate histories of violence and displacement within the urban space of the Belgian capital. For this, I will focus especially on the complex ways in which the novel blurs perceived boundaries between the fictional and the non-fictional, between the representational and what cannot be represented, and between text and image. In doing so, I will address a number of questions of literary and visual representation, as well as memory, mobility, and space, to demonstrate their centrality for a better understanding of Brussels’s postcolonial condition.

Sarah Arens is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in French at the University of St Andrews. Her talk draws on her forthcoming monograph, Imagining Brussels: Memory and Diaspora in Francophone Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2021). Her research focuses on questions of violence, science, and control in fictional and non-fictional writing about the Belgian colonial project.

Zoom details:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 889 5750 5292

Passcode: 637197

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