Full minutes for the 2021 Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies AGM can be accessed below. We would particularly encourage our members to read, and respond to, the various Actions (highlighted in red).
In particular, we are looking to recruit two Conference Secretaries to organise next year’s conference, in November 2022, which we hope will again be held in-person, but with opportunities for those unable to travel to be able to present their papers online. Ample handover notes will be provided, so please do consider volunteering – or encouraging your PhD students to volunteer – for this exciting opportunity to gain lots of valuable experience for the CV. Suggestions for the theme of next year’s conference are also invited.
As always, please do let us know of any publications or research events that you would like us to advertise via SFPS’s monthly mailings and social media. Please also consider submitting a book proposal for the Francophone Postcolonial Studies series, published by Liverpool University Press: https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/series/series-12325/ and/or an article, shorter piece or book review to the bi-annual Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies: http://sfps.org.uk/2020/10/09/bulletin-of-francophone-postcolonial-studies-11-2/
And of course, if you have not already done so, please make sure that you renew your membership of SFPS for 2022: http://sfps.org.uk/membership-forms/
Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies
Minutes of AGM 2021
12 November 2021
- Apologies: Charlotte Baker
- Minutes of last meeting
The minutes of the last meeting, held on 13 November 2020, were recirculated to the Board by email after the 2021 AGM, and approved subject to one correction (5. Rachel –> Rebecca Glasberg)
- Matters Arising
Proposed £500 for PG activities (approved AGM 2020) resulted in two further discussion points – (i) to ring-fence £200 for an annual Postgraduate prize for best written or creative output on a given theme, for publication in Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies; and (ii) that the remaining £300 be open to applications from all members of SFPS, to fund innovative FPS-related activities, with preference given to activities connecting scholars from both the Global North and the Global South. Both suggestions were approved.
Introduction of free Associate Membership for scholars from Low-Middle-Income countries (with all benefits except annual LUP volume) was approved at 2020 AGM and has to date resulted in 9 new associate members.
Bulletin Style Guide – SA reported that she had received feedback on a draft version but has not yet produced a final version, which will be forthcoming.
Anti-racist ‘library’. An initial list was compiled by FMcQ, with contributions from RG and other SFPS members. The workshop section of the online Postgraduate Study Day in June focused on this resource and the possible forms it might take in future. Further discussion of this point is covered below in AOB.
- President’s Report – Julia Waters
JW welcomed everyone to this year’s online AGM and conference – particularly those joining from across the globe, one of the significant advantages of the online format. She thanked Sky Herington and Orane Onyekpe-Touzet, Conference Secretaries, for all their hard work and adaptability in ensuring the smooth organisation of this year’s conference, ‘(Re)thinking (Post)Colonial Landscapes in the Francophone World.’ While this is the first time that the SFPS annual conference has been held online, both the 2020 AGM and the Postgraduate Study Day, in June 2021, were previously held online, so maintaining the Society’s activities during the challenging times created by the pandemic. JW thanked all members of the SFPS board for their hard work and commitment during the past year. Thanks to OO-T and FMcQ, Publicity Officers, for ensuring that SFPS’s website, monthly mailings, Facebook page and social media have continued to remain active and well-visited.
JW reported that the FPS series is doing well, after some disruption to the publication schedules of the last two volumes. The 2021 volume, Sounds Senses, by Yasser Elhariry, has recently been published and distributed to SFPS members. The 2022 volume, French Decadence in a Global Context, edited by Jennifer Yee, is in press, with publication scheduled for Spring 2022. The 2023 volume, Colonial Continuities, a tribute to the late SFPS President Kate Marsh, and edited by Sarah Arens, Nicola Frith, Jonathan Lewis and Rebekah Vince, has been commissioned. Tentative approaches have been made about the 2024 volume onwards, though no formal book proposal has yet been submitted. ACTION: ALL are warmly invited to submit proposals to JW, General Editor of FPS, for future edited volumes and/or to advertise the FPS series to colleagues working in relevant areas.
Nicki Hitchcott will be stepping down from the FPS Editorial Board at the end of December 2021, after 6 years in the role. JW expressed her grateful thanks to Nicki for her excellent support of the series during this time. Professor Romuald Fonkoua (Sorbonne) and Dr Mame-Fatou Niang (Carnegie-Mellon) will be joining the FPS Editorial Board on 1 January 2022, for an initial term of three years.
- Treasurer’s Report – Claire Griffiths
The Treasurer’s Report is available to members on request: for security reasons, the Society’s finances are not otherwise made public. Claire Griffiths gave an update on SFPS’s finances. After two years without an in-person conference and with increasing publication costs associated with the LUP annual volume, profits are down. But overall figures remain healthy, following five years of positive income. Savings have also been made as a result of holding the 2021 Conference and PG Study Day online. CG proposed that SFPS introduce an annual award of up to £500 for an innovative activity in any field of Francophone Postcolonial Studies. Following discussion about the scope, eligibility and bidding process for such an award, the proposal was agreed. The award will be reviewed after an initial period of 5 years, depending on success and on Society’s financial position. ACTION: CG to draft an appropriate form of words that can be used to advertise the funding and invite applications.
- Membership Report – Kate Hodgson
KH reported that overall membership figures have dropped, as predicted, in 2021. The new category of associate membership has enabled new 9 associate members to join so far, primarily in Sub-Saharan and North Africa: this is a welcome new initiative this year, and one that it is hoped will continue to be promoted. Institutional (16) and postgraduate (18)/concessionary (4) membership remains relatively steady. However the number of full members (31) has declined, which will represent a decline in income for the society. This decline in individual memberships was anticipated and is doubtless related to the fact that an annual conference did not take place in the autumn of 2020 due to the Covid19 pandemic (the conference would usually start us off with a good boost of new memberships in the autumn for the following year). It is to be hoped that the society’s increased activity in the virtual sphere, including online events held in the course of the year, the current conference, and the excellent and active social media presence this year led by FMcQ and OO-T will continue to bring members in going forward into 2022. ACTION: All members to promote the benefits of SFPS membership to PG students and colleagues.
- Conference Secretaries’ Report (submitted after AGM) – Orane Onyekpe-Touzet and Sky Herington
67 abstracts were submitted for this year’s conference, on the theme of ‘(Re)Thinking (Post)Colonial Landscapes in the Francophone World’, timed to coincide with COP26. The final programme for the conference, which was held online, consisted of the Kate Marsh Memorial Lecture delivered by Jason Allen-Paisant, a roundtable with the Mauritian artists Alix Le Juge, Carl de Souza and David Constantin, and a total of 12 panels running in parallel sessions. The final number of presenters speaking in the panels was 32. Presenters included both established and early career researchers based at a range of institutions in the UK, USA, France, Ireland, Nigeria, Togo, Morocco, Australia and Finland. Owing to the challenges of organising the conference online this year, we decided not to include the Dorothy Blair Memorial Lecture or the ECR workshop in the programme.
We were contacted by 99 individuals to register for the conference from a very wide range of institutions across the world in countries including the UK, France, USA, Thailand, India, Ireland, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Greece, Algeria, Canada, Australia, Mali, Italy, Poland, Morocco, Switzerland, Senegal, Kuwait and Eswatini. The number of attendees at the different panels was around 35 for the Kate Marsh Memorial Lecture; 28 for the Mauritian artists panel and between 12-20 for each of the panels.
The conference was successful with a broad range of themes covered and several points of resonance developed between the different papers and discussions. It was particularly fruitful to have the artistic perspective from the roundtable, and we are very grateful to Julia for her organisation of this. Although we faced some technical issues with Teams over the course of the conference, and the discussion was necessarily more limited on this platform, the online format worked well overall. It was clear from the lists of both attendees and presenters that holding the conference online allowed for wider participation from researchers across the world compared to the in-person version in London. We discussed the possibility of using a hybrid form next year in order to have both the benefit of more fluid discussion and social connection that in-person allows, and the broader audience and participation offered by the online format. There are a number of lessons that we learned in terms of the technical side of organising on Teams which we could pass on to future conference secretaries, especially regarding the generating of meeting links, although it might be preferable, if university-supported technology allows, to use another platform such as Zoom, as the majority of participants did not seem to be familiar with Teams. It would perhaps also be useful to include the ECR workshop again at the next conference.
We are grateful to all of the executive committee for their support in organising the conference, especially in sharing notes from previous years, managing new memberships, chairing panels, and publicising the conference widely.
- Publicity Officers’ Report – Fraser McQueen and Orane Onyekpe-Touzet
FMcQ and OO-T have continued to share the responsibility of compiling and distributing the monthly mailings. They have also maintained 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). The SFPS social media are kept active: currently, there are 709 page follows on Facebook (55 more than last year), and 2,766 Twitter followers (181 more than last year). FMcQ collected and compiled materials for the anti-racist ‘library’, but hopes that expressions of interest made at the PG Study Day will materialise. As discussed at the last AGM, an SFPS Instagram account was set up, which currently has 22 followers: further thought needs to be given as to how to make this content different from Facebook/Twitter.
The AGM discussed the Publicity Officers’ proposals that we should be more proactive in posting SFPS members’ own content on social media, rather than share other people’s; and that we make members more aware that we’re keen to share relevant publications, events, etc, through the SFPS website and social media. It was agreed that regular reminders of all the benefits of membership should be emailed to the SFPS mailing list, as well as posting on the SFPS website and social media (ACTION: FMcQ and OO-T). The possibility of promoting members’ own events and publications via the Society’s mailing list and social media should also be added as a ‘benefit’ of membership on the membership form and website (ACTION: KH).
- FPS Bulletin Editors’ Report – Sarah Arens and Jemima Hodgkinson
SA reported that just one issue of the Bulletin has been published since the last report in November 2020; the spring/summer issue 12.1 includes an article by Charles Forsdick (Liverpool) for our new ‘Encounters with …’ series and reflects on the impact that Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism has had on his work. The issue also features an extended review essay by yasser elhariry (Dartmouth) of SFPS members’ Jane Hiddleston and Khalid Lyamlahy’s edited collection Abdelkébir Khatibi: Postcolonialism, Transnationalism and Culture in the Maghreb and Beyond (Liverpool University Press, 2020), as well as a number of book reviews. The Bulletin’s Autumn issue (12.2) had to be cancelled because no book reviews were received back in time, one contributor of the ‘Encounters with …’ series pulled out late, and any other submissions were not in a publishable state. We aim to publish a double issue in spring 2022 instead.
SA reported that, despite her and JH’s best efforts (advertising the Bulletin on Twitter, Francofil, etc.) they are struggling to keep the Bulletin alive and so are seeking support from the Executive Committee and the broader membership of SFPS. They have also called a meeting of the Advisory Board of the Bulletin to discuss extending the Board to members based outside the UK, to heighten the profile of BFPS and encourage submissions from a broader audience.
SA expressed her thanks to Jemima Hodgkinson (Liverpool), the Book Reviews Editor, who continues doing a stellar job, even under very difficult conditions. Jemima will take a break from her responsibilities for the final stages of her PhD after the publication of the spring 2022 issue, when SA will cover the Book Reviews Editor role for her.
The AGM discussed SA’s suggestion that an annual postgraduate essay competition on a set theme be established, with a prize of £150-200 for the best submission. The first and second place submissions, as judged by a small jury of 1-2 ECR SFPS members and 1-2 senior members, would be published in the following issue of the Bulletin. The AGM agreed the suggestion, with the proviso that the £150-200 requested be ring-fenced from the £500 already agreed for innovative, FPS-related activities (Matters Arising/Treasurer’s Report), rather than constituting a separate, additional sum. Both would be reviewed after five years.
SA and JH encourage SFPS members to continue to consider the Bulletin for their publications and to recommend BFPS as an excellent first publication opportunity to their PG students. The AGM also recommended that those presenting papers at this year’s conference consider publishing their articles in the Bulletin.
- SFPS Postgraduate Representatives’ Report – Kate Mackenzie, Dyhia Bia & Rebecca Glasberg
The SFPS Postgraduate Study Day, “Les vies noires comptent aussi: Roots, Dynamics and Intersections of Racism and Anti-racism in France and the Francophone World,” took place on June 24 via Zoom. There were approx. 20 attendees, of whom 7 new members (including Associate Members whose registration covered just the Study Day). Attendees Zoomed in from several different countries on four different continents.
The first half of the session was moderated by Dr Nicola Frith (University of Edinburgh) and heard four papers by Postgraduate presenters covering a range of topics and approaches: De la couleur littéraire – Catégorisation, réception et posture chez Gaël Faye et Julien Delmaire, Eline Kuenen, Radboud University; Amadou Cissé Dia’s ‘Les derniers jours de Lat Dior, 1966’: Dramatic inclusion and exclusion of ex-colonial constituencies in the post-independence Senegalese nation” Freddie Coombes, University of Leeds; When Islamophobia crosses the Atlantic: comments in the Brazilian media on French Muslim issues, Felipe Freitas de Souza, Sãn Paulo State University (UNESP); French Colonial Continuities in the 1972 White Paper on Defence” Maryam Shams, University of Sheffield, UK.
In the second half of the session, we discussed the SFPS Antiracist Library: what it should look like, what it should include, and where/how to store it. In terms of quantity, we discussed two options: first, creating an annotated shorter list of works, which would serve as starting points into the conversation, and second, expanding the scope of our current draft library to include earlier time periods. As for content, we had several related discussions: attendees discussed the merits and stakes of including fiction; the importance of focusing on non-Western epistemologies; and the need to privilege free, open-access material. Attendees also concluded that there should be a section devoted to Haiti. Finally, attendees agreed that the library should be a living document or “toolkit” that can be added to and updated and that should be made available with a particular audience in mind; however, we did not come to a firm conclusion on a location/format for it to live. JW stated that she had followed up on these points with the PG attendees who had expressed an interest in being involved, but to no avail. (Point also covered in AOB).
Suggestions are invited regarding topics and/or approaches/formats which PGR members would find it useful to address in 2022. The AGM agreed that it would probably be beneficial to maintain the online format for future Postgraduate Study Days, given the many benefits of including attendees – and encouraging members – from different countries. (ACTION: CM, RG and DB to canvas other PG members for ideas and preferences.)
- Election to SFPS Board
JW thanked all members of the SFPS Board for their hard work, creativity and commitment during 2020-21 – and all those who have confirmed that they are happy to continue in role for the coming year.
Kate Hodgson wishes to step down as Membership Secretary after 6 years in post. JW thanked KH for her fantastic work in this role over such a long period, and invited expressions of interest. Following the AGM, JW is delighted to confirm that Sky Herington has agreed to take over the post of Membership Secretary from KH, who will provide a thorough handover.
JW also asked for expressions of interest in two roles of Conference Secretary for the 2022 SFPS conference which it is hoped will be held in-person at Senate House, London, albeit with elements of online or hybrid delivery, to continue to ensure the attendance of presenters – particularly from LMI countries – who are unable to travel to the conference. ACTION: ALL members please to consider taking on this vital and exciting role or to encourage colleagues/PG students to do so.
- Any Other Business
The AGM ran out of time, so the following topics for discussion – and the action points outlined above – will be pursued via email.
The Antiracist Library: KH, FMcQ and RG have kindly agreed to remain involved in this initiative. JW requested that they meet online soon to discuss next steps. KH suggested that, given the speed with which issues of racism, anti-racism and inclusivity in Francophone contexts continue to evolve, it might be more appropriate to create materials via the use of hashtags or similar, crowdsourced means. ACTION: KH to pursue with FMcQ, RG and other interested parties.
The Dorothy Blair Memorial Lecture: this was omitted from this year’s conference programme, given problems experienced with managing numerous panels online. Are members of the SFPS Board keen to reinstate this lecture, or do they feel that the Kate Marsh Memorial Lecture for ECRs is sufficient? ACTION: ALL interested parties, please send your views to JW for consideration.
Given the poor attendance at this year’s AGM and the difficulties thus encountered with discussing important action points, it was suggested that the AGM (in streamlined, ‘points for discussion’ form, with reports posted on the SFPS website for consultation) be scheduled as part of the conference programme next year, rather than at lunchtime. ACTION: Please send your views on this suggestion to JW for consideration.
ACTION ALL: JW also invited suggestions for the theme of next year’s annual SFPS conference.