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Minutes of AGM 2020

27th November 2020

Full minutes for the 2020 Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies AGM can be accessed below. However, we would particularly like to draw the attention of our members to the below points

  • One or two posts as Postgraduate Representative on the SFPS Executive Committee are now vacant, and we warmly welcome volunteers.
  • There is also a vacancy on the Editorial Board of the Francophone Postcolonial Studies series, published by Liverpool University Press. In line with our commitment to diversity, we would particularly welcome nominations from scholars of colour from the francophone Global South, who are currently underrepresented.
  • We would be grateful if SFPS members could encourage postgraduate students to join.
  • We remain keen to receive suggestions for the French and francophone online anti-racist ‘library’ that, in line with the pledges we outlined this June, we are committed to making available in the near future. Please email any contributions to f.j.mcqueen1@stir.ac.uk.
  • Please note the AGM’s unanimous decision to offer free SFPS membership to institutions and individual academics and students from the Global South. While further details of how this will be implemented remain to be confirmed, we encourage SFPS members to reach out to relevant research contacts and to promote this initiative.

Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting which took place online, via Microsoft Teams, on 13 November 2020


  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes of the last meeting
  3. Matters Arising
  4. President’s Report
  5. Treasurer’s Report
  6. Membership Secretary’s Report
  7. Conference Secretaries’ Report
  8. Publicity Team’s Report
  9. Francophone Postcolonial Studies Bulletin Editor’s Report
  10. Postgraduate Representatives’ Reports
  11. Elections to Executive Committee
  12. Any other business


  1. Apologies

Jemima Paine, Rebecca Glasberg, Sarah Arens

  1. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the last meeting were approved.

  1. Matters Arising
  2. Deadlines for membership reminders have been affected by the Covid-related delay in publication (from Spring to Autumn) of the 2020 FPS volume. A reminder about 2021 renewals will go out, as usual, in January.
  3. The SFPS mailing is again being sent out monthly. Onyekpe-Touzet and Fraser McQueen (joint Publicity Officers) now share this task.
  4. Unfortunately, no PG events were able to be held in either UK or US in 2020, but the Executive Committee are keen to support PG events in 2021, either online or in-person. The Treasurer confirmed that financial support of approx.. £500 p.a. could be ring-fenced for PG events in 2021 and 2022.
  1. President’s Report – Julia Waters

JW welcomed everyone to this year’s online AGM and acknowledged everyone’s disappointment that, given the ongoing global pandemic, it had exceptionally been necessary to cancel this year’s annual SFPS conference, so we were unable to meet in person. She thanked everyone for their continued membership and support of the Society in what had been a very difficult year.

JW thanked Charlotte Baker (CB), the Vice President, for her excellent, efficient handover and for her regular, helpful advice during JW’s first year as SFPS President. JW also thanked all the SFPS Executive members for their hard work, dedication and adaptability, which had ensured that the Society’s profile had remained visible while moving online, despite many other demands on members’ time. SFPS’s website and Facebook page have continued to remain active and well-visited and membership figures are healthy, despite the cancellation of the conference.

As always, JW encouraged both academic and postgraduate members to get involved with the work of the Society and to volunteer for vacant posts on the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is essential in ensuring the ongoing activities of the Society, in supporting its broad aims of promoting research in all areas of Francophone Postcolonial Studies, in bridging the gap between Francophone and Anglophone Postcolonial Studies, and in responding to disciplinary and contextual changes.

JW reported that the Francophone Postcolonial Studies series was in good health, though schedules had been affected by the global pandemic: the publication of both 2020 and 2021 volumes has been delayed from Spring to Autumn.

The publication of the 2020 volume, Jewish-Muslim Interactions: Performing Cultures between North Africa and France, edited by Sami Everett and Rebekah Vince, is imminent (30 November). Kate Hodgson is finalising the updated mailing list for LUP and members’ copies should be with them soon.

The FPS Editorial Board has recently received readers’ reports on the manuscript of the 2021 volume, Sounds, Senses, edited by Yasser Elhariry, the publication of which has been delayed (until at least Autumn 2021), as a result of Covid-19.

A very strong proposal from Jenny Yee, for an edited volume on French Decadence in a Global Context, adding a missing historical dimension to the FPS list, has also been accepted, with a view to publication in Spring 2022.

Preliminary discussions have also been had with Nicky Frith, Sarah Arens, Jonathan Lewis and Rebekah Vince, on a possible edited volume in memory of former SFPS President Kate Marsh, to be based on more ‘modern’ areas (tbc) of Kate’s wide-ranging research expertise. This volume would complement the one already commissioned for the LUP/OUSE series, based on Kate’s research on the earlier, Enlightenment period.

As always, proposals for future, edited volumes on any area of Francophone Postcolonial Studies are warmly invited.

JW indicated that there is still space on the FPS Editorial Board for one additional member. In keeping with the Society’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, we particularly welcome suggestions or nominations from scholars of colour from the Global South. Action: all members are encouraged to submit to JW suggestions for this Editorial Board position.

JW reminded the AGM of the Society’s published Statement of Support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and associated pledges – which were discussed at length in Any Other Business (below).


  1. Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer’s Report is available to members on request. Claire Griffiths gave an update on SFPS’s finances. Despite the cancellation of this year’s conference and the consequent impact upon membership, finances remain healthy, although LUP do not appear to have invoiced us for all costs associated with 2020 volume yet. The cancellation of other planned activities has led to savings elsewhere, meaning that c.£500 could be ring-fenced in both 2021 and 2022 to support diversity/BLM-themed PG events. It was agreed that this was a good idea. Action: JW to discuss with Rachel Glasberg (US Postgraduate Rep) and UK Postgraduate Reps (once appointed) the possibility of organising a diversity/BLM PG event in 2021. JW also to chase LUP re outstanding invoice.

  1. Membership Secretary’s Report

Kate Hodgson reported on membership figures for 2020: there are currently 82 individual members (56 full members, 26 concessional/postgrad); and 15 institutional members = 97 total.

Membership figures have held steady in 2020. The number of postgraduate members has decreased from a high of 30 over the last couple of years to 19 in 2020, while the number of full members has increased from 42 to 56, with the majority of current members present at the well-attended 2019 conference. The higher postgrad numbers we saw in 2018 and 2019 may have been linked to activities that took place Stateside, such as the UCLA event in 2018. The majority of our current postgraduate membership is based at universities in the UK, although we have a few postgrad members based in the US and Canada. Looking ahead to 2021, SFPS membership has been linked to conference attendance over the last couple of years. Due to the cancellation of 2020’s annual conference amid the ongoing pandemic, there may be a corresponding membership drop in 2021. In order to mitigate against this, we will send out membership reminders in January and again just prior to the SFPS publication with Liverpool University Press as usual, and advertise membership via online lists such as Francofil, H France etc. Members could let graduate students in their institutions know about SFPS, and we could think about other ways of publicising the benefits of membership to graduate students. A reminder that as agreed at the last AGM, membership fees will be going up in 2021 for full members to £65 per year, while other fees remain unchanged (current fees: £35 postgrad/concessionary/Africa-based; £55 full members; £75 institutional members). Action: KH to send out 2021 membership reminder in January. ALL: encourage postgraduates to join SFPS.

  1. Conference Secretaries’ Report

Abdelbaqi Ghorab reported on the planning for the 2020 SFPS Conference, that was subsequently cancelled as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. The theme of ‘Francophone (Post)Colonial Landscapes’ had been proposed (and a CfP drafted), in part since the timing of the conference coincided with the UK’s hosting of the United Nations Climate Change COP26 conference. When Covid-19 restrictions continued, the possibility of an online conference was mooted, before JW took the decision, after consultation, to cancel the conference altogether. A call for short, video presentations, on the theme of ‘Health, Disease and Contagion in the Francophone Postcolonial World’, to be hosted on the SFPS website, was circulated instead but, despite sending out a reminder, did not receive sufficient interest. The AGM agreed that the theme of ‘Francophone (Post)Colonial Landscapes’ would still be interesting for the 2021 annual conference, not least because COP26 has been postponed to the second weekend in November, so should again coincide with the SFPS annual conference. JW reported that AG is unfortunately unable to continue as Conference Secretary next year and thanked him for all his hard work in difficult circumstances.

  1. Publicity Team’s Report

Since Fraser McQueen’s appointment as second Publicity Office at the 2019 AGM, he and Orane Onyekpe-Touzet have shared the responsibility for compiling and sending out the SFPS mailing monthly – a change to regularity that has been much appreciated by members. They have continued to maintain the website (including posting monthly mailings, other announcements, and two issues of Bulletin for Francophone Postcolonial Studies, as well as keeping other pages such as contact details, membership information, archive of publications up to date). FM and OOT have succeeded in keeping SFPS social media pages active (including sharing details of relevant publications, job vacancies, funding announcements, etc), with the result that there are currently 654 followers on Facebook (14 more than last year), and 2,595 followers on Twitter (119 more than last year).

FM has also helped compile a first draft of the online ‘library’ of French-language anti-racist resources that SFPS has pledged to create and host.

OOT and FM also outlined the following suggestions for further publicity activities in 2020/21 (which have already received JW’s enthusiastic approval):

  • Start an Instagram account where we could repost content linked to our centres of interest (book releases from publishers, videos tackling questions we work on, etc).
  • Posting/reposting content from the anti-racist library (maybe once a week or so) (on Facebook and maybe also Instagram and Twitter depending on the format of the content).
  • Be more proactive in posting content of our own on social media (currently we mainly share other people’s content).
  • Consider ways to bridge gaps between the Francophone/Anglophone communities working on postcolonial literature, e.g. by creating stronger links with other societies in the Francophone world, although presumably attempts like this have already been made.
  • Share relevant, recent publications by SFPS members through the SFPS website/social media (by uploading a new post to the website, including abstract/any details the member provided).

Actions: the AGM agreed that these were all great initiatives and encouraged OOT and FM to proceed. JW and KH to get back to FM with feedback on the digest of anti-racist materials so far compiled and to moderate, if required, prior to posting.

  1. Francophone Postcolonial Studies Bulletin Editor’s Report and Book Review Editor’s Report

In her absence, Sarah Arens submitted the following report:

Three issues of the Bulletin have been published since the last annual conference in 2019. The spring issue (11.1, publication April 2020) featured an extended book review essay of Sexe, race et colonies: La domination des corps du XVe siècle à nos jours, entitled ‘Sexe, race et colonies and the Aesthetics-Ethics Debate in the Francophone Postcolonial Visual Field’ by Kaya Davies Hayon (Lincoln) that engaged with the substantial and very polarized media response to the publication of the book edited by Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, Gilles Boëtsch, Christelle Taraud and Dominic Thomas and a number of book reviews. The second regular issue (11.2) was published in October 2019 and included an article by Maria Flood (Keele), entitled ‘“If there is no music, there will be no Mali”: Conflict, Documentary Film, and Music as Resistance in Mali, 2012–2015’, as well as the usual book reviews’ section.

SA highlighted that she was actively trying to extend the remit, and thereby the readership of the Bulletin by including articles and book reviews that address periods and contexts not previously considered: for instance, issue 11.2 features Elizabeth Leet’s (Washington & Jefferson College) excellent review of Victoria Turner’s Theorizing Medieval Race: Saracen Representations in Old French Literature (2019).

We also published a special issue in memory of Kate Marsh for the 2019 annual conference, which included two personal reflections on Kate, written by her former PhD student Nicola Frith (Edinburgh) and her former collaborator, Corinne François Denève (Bourgogne), as well as a reprint of Kate’s article ‘Pondichéry: Archive of “French” India’, which was originally published in Francosphère in 2014 and a limited number of book reviews. We are very grateful to the editors of Francosphère for having permitted the re-publication.

However, the two regular issues this year have been published under difficult conditions: in respect of the industrial action of the University and College Union (UCU) in the UK earlier this year and the following COVID-19 crisis, we granted contributors and reviewers more time, resulting in both issues containing fewer book reviews than usual and both were published with slight delays. Being acutely aware of the multiple pressures that colleagues in the field are currently experiencing, we are discussing new deadlines for the 2021 issues. I would like to thank all contributors and reviewers of the issues published in 2020 for their commitment.

SA thanked Jemima Payne (Liverpool), who has been doing a stellar job, even under such aggravated conditions and while she was doing archival research in the U.S. for her PhD. Without her tireless work, there would not have been any issues of the Bulletin this year.

Earlier this year and in response to the new momentum that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has gained, SA had sent around an updated style guide of the Bulletin that embraces inclusive language. SA thanked everyone who had provided very helpful feedback on this matter and apologised that have not been able to circulate the revised version yet.

Action: SA to circulate the revised style guide before publication of the 2021 spring issue of the Bulletin, in April 2021.


  1. Postgraduate Representatives’ Report

The UK PG Representative (OOT) reported that, sadly, there had been no PG events organised in 2020.

The US Postgraduate Representative, Rebecca Glasberg, reported that, given the constraints of Covid, it will not be possible to organise a US-based PG study day any time in the near future. If there is general interest, however, she would love to look into creating an online event that brings US-based SFPS postgrads together to discuss our research. (Or postgrads across the globe — the idea is simply that it would be based on US time zones.)

RG is also keen to see SFPS expand its base within US institutions. Among US colleagues in Francophone Postcolonial Studies, few are members of SFPS. RG would welcome a discussion of how to increase recruiting efforts for new PG members.

She also reiterated the importance of discussing concrete actions that SFPS can take to become more actively anti-racist and to support colleagues of colour in academia. RG asserts that it is crucial we take a critical look at our own practices and come up with action items we can implement to become an anti-racist organization in our own right.

Action: following supportive discussion at the AGM, JW to follow up on these points with RG – including, notably, the possibility of organising a PG event (or events) with a diversity/BLM focus, with funding from SFPS.

  1. Elections to Executive Committee

Charlotte Baker continues as Vice President. Claire Griffiths continues as Treasurer and Kate Hodgson continues as Membership Secretary. Sarah Arens continues as Editor of the Bulletin and Jemima Paine as Book Reviews Editor. Rebecca Glasberg continues as US Postgraduate Representative. Fraser McQueen and Orane Onyekpe-Touzet continue as Publicity Officers. Orane Onyekpe-Touzet was also appointed as Conference Secretary. A second vacancy as Conference Secretary, as well as one or two vacancies as Postgraduate Representatives will be advertised to members. JW thanked outgoing officers, Orane Onyekpe-Touzet (as PG Rep) and Abdelbaqi Ghorab (Conference Secretary) for their excellent contributions and hard work in these roles.

Action: KH to advertise the roles of Conference Secretary* and PG Representative via the SFPS e-mailing list. FM and OOT also to advertise these roles on SFPS social media. AG and Antonia Wimbush (2019 Conference Secretary) offered their support and advice to OOT. JW to pass on AW’s handover notes to OOT. [*Update: Sky Herington, PG student at University of Warwick, has since volunteered as second Conference Secretary. JW thanked her and welcomed her to the Executive Committee.]

Any other business

A lively and very useful discussion was held about how to put into action the various pledges that accompanied SFPS’s statement of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Namely, in particular:

  1. Review and update the Society’s aims, constitution, activities and materials, to ensure greater anti-racist and diversity emphases. Action: JW to follow up.
  2. Ensure greater representation of students and colleagues of colour in our membership, governance, events and publications.
  • Working in partnership with relevant campaigning and subject associations, compile and curate on our website an online, open access ‘library’ of French-language, anti-racist resources, reading lists, teaching and outreach materials, association links and videos – and promote these to wide, academic and non-academic, audiences.
  1. Be vocal in our support of anti-racist, diversity and inclusion debates in academia: including, the representation of students and colleagues of colour; the diversity of school and university curricula; addressing the attainment gap.

In relation to ii, Ruth Bush asked whether diversity data were collected for SFPS membership, in order accurately to assess any progress made against the base-line. KH replied that although such data were not routinely collected, her impression was that SFPS membership is quite diverse, at least in comparison with the sector generally. It was suggested that, given our limited resources, SFPS could work with national bodies, such as UCML or AUPHF, to conduct a diversity review of French Studies, to which SFPS could usefully contribute (also pt. iv above). Action: JW to follow up with UCML and AUPHF.

OOT enquired about existing institutional membership from francophone Africa and other regions of the Global South and suggested a more concerted recruitment drive. The current, reduced SFPS membership fee of £35 for individuals from the Global South was discussed, AG pointing out that a monthly academic salary in North Africa is approximately £180 and so even the reduced fee remains prohibitive. The AGM agreed that free membership for both institutions and for individuals from the Global South would be a very welcome move – and suggested that the associated recruitment drive could start by inviting institutions with which SFPS members already have connections (RB’s ERC research network with 4 universities in sub-Saharan Africa being just one example). The implications of free membership for the inclusion of the annual FPS volume as part of SFPS membership package were discussed. CB asked whether Open Access publication of FPS volumes 12-18 months after publication might be a solution, although it was recognised that OA publication does also incur costs. JW suggested that FPS volume editors might in future be urged to explore the possibility of institutional funding for the OA publication of the volume’s introduction, at least, as a way of facilitating the dissemination of their volume’s findings to a Global South audience. CB suggested an online SFPS event or online participation in existing SFPS events as a way of encouraging greater participation from colleagues and postgraduates from the Global South, as well as from new audiences such as teachers. JW also suggested the instigation of a regular online panel at the annual SFPS Conference, for scholars who are unable to attend in person for financial or visa reasons. All of these suggestions were warmly received.

On point iii, KH suggested that, rather than awaiting further contributions before publishing, the online, anti-racist ‘library’ could be uploaded to the SFPS website entry-by-entry, and thereafter crowd-sourced. FM also suggested that these materials could be used on social media to encourage debate and engagement from members (as per Publicity Officers’ Report above).

Actions: JW to discuss with LUP the financial implications of a free or OA FPS volume for institutional members from the Global South, and to report back. Depending on outcome of discussions with LUP, KH to update membership fees and associated benefits – and OOT and FM to publicise on website and social media. JW also to follow up with FM re the best way to compile and build the online anti-racist ‘library’ – and then to proceed.

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