Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies
Minutes of AGM 2022
Senate House, London, 18 November 2022
- Apologies: Charlotte Baker, Sky Herington, Jemima Hodgkinson, Kate MacKenzie, Fraser McQueen
SFPS Committee members present: Julia Waters (President); Claire Griffiths (Treasurer, online); Orane Onyekpe Touzet (Publicity Officer); Sarah Arens (SFPS Bulletin Editor); Sara Mechkarini and Dega Rutherford (Conference Secretaries).
- Minutes of last meeting
The minutes of the last meeting, held on 12 November 2021, had been recirculated to the Board by email, and approved. These are available to view on the SFPS website.
- Matters Arising
5 & 9. £500 fund for innovative FPS-related activities (originally approved AGM 2020 and raised again AGN 2021), including (pt. 9) creation of £200 PG prize for best submission to FPS Bulletin on a given theme (approved at AGM 2021). Neither proposal has been progressed this year because of serious problems with the Society’s bank account, but AGM agreed that these were still excellent ideas that should be pursued once possible. ACTIONS: CG and SA to progress once bank account problems resolved.
6 & 7. Promote benefits of membership, including promotion of FPS-related publications and events. Membership Secretary, Publicity Officer(s) and all SFPS members to continue to promote the various benefits of SFPS membership (full, concessionary and free Associate) to colleagues and students. SFPS members: remember to promote your FPS-related publications and events via SFPS mailings and social media.
- There have been no Postgraduate events organised this year. ACTION: PG members of SFPS – please contact Kate MacKenzie, Postgraduate Representative, with suggestions for PG events (online or in-person) for the coming year. There is SFPS funding to support PG activities.
AOB. There has been no progress to report on the compilation and dissemination of the proposed francophone anti-racist resources (originally approved at AGM 2020). ACTIONS: JW to follow up with Kate Hodgson. If other SFPS members are interested in leading or contributing to this project, please contact JW.
- President’s Report – Julia Waters
JW welcomed everyone to this year’s AGM and conference – the first in-person SFPS conference since 2019. She thanked Sara Mechkarini and Dega Rutherford, Conference Secretaries, for all their efforts, enthusiasm and expertise in organising this year’s conference, on ‘(Post)Colonial Francophone Archives: Commemoration, Preservation and Erasure.’ Thanks also went to Jenny Stubbs and the Senate House team for welcoming us back and for helping to make the logistical organisation run smoothly.
JW thanked the members of the SFPS Committee for their work in keeping the Society running and maintaining its profile during the past year. She conceded that it had been more of a struggle than anticipated to keep business running post-lockdown and that various planned activities – including Postgraduate events and the ‘library’ of anti-racist resources – had not gone ahead because of members’ other commitments. JW invited SFPS members to get involved and contribute new ideas to the Society’s activities.
JW reported that the Francophone Postcolonial Studies series, published by Liverpool University Press, continues to go well and that the publication schedule is back on track, following the disruption caused by the pandemic. The 2022 volume, French Decadence in a Global Context, edited by Julia Hartley, Wanrug Suwanwattana and Jennifer Yee, was been published in the Spring and distributed to SFPS members. The 2023 volume, Colonial Continuities, a tribute to late SFPS President Kate Marsh and edited by Nicola Frith, Sarah Arens, Rebekah Vince and Jonathan Lewis, is in press, with publication scheduled for Autumn 2023. The 2024 volume, Francophone Oceanic Studies Today, edited by Michelle Royer, Léa Vuong and Nathalie Segeral, is on track to be published in Spring 2024. Preliminary interest has been expressed in the 2025 volume, but no proposal yet 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.
Maeve McCusker, Lia Brozgal, H. Adlai Murdoch and Pat Crowley will all be stepping down from the FPS Editorial Board at the end of December 2022, after 6 years in the role. JW expressed her enormous thanks to them all for their excellent support of the series during this time, ensuring that the volumes are of a consistently high standard. Mamboula Soumahoro (Tours, France) will be joining the FPS board from 1 January 2023, for an initial term of three years. But there remain 2-3 places to fill. ACTION: Please send suggestions of suitable candidates to join the FPS Editorial Board to JW, General Editor, bearing in mind the need to represent a diversity of specialisms and institutional affiliations. UPDATE: JW is pleased to report that, since the AGM, Jennifer Boum Make (Georgetown, US) and Nicholas Harrison (King’s College London) have also agreed to join the FPS Editorial Board.
- 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. Please contact Claire for further information.
- Proposed actions:
1) review the nomenclature used by the Society for committee membership and executive membership to accord with the constitution of the Society,
2) add a named ‘Hon Secretary’ to the executive. The role could be combined with another committee or executive role with the exception of Treasurer as the Secretary needs to confirm the appointment of future Treasurers.
3) Review whether we could afford to allocate more funds to next year’s conference.
Innovation fund idea
- It was not possible to launch the innovation fund this year. However, the idea is approved by the AGM will be launched in the next financial year 2023.
- Further ideas for discussion include:
Uploading free innovative teaching & learning resources in Francophone Postcolonial studies for use in schools and universities. ACTION: There was not enough time at the AGM to discuss this proposal in depth. ALL: please send your ideas or expressions of interest in this proposal to JW.
- We now waive the conference fee for conference organisers. Proposal to consider extending to allow executive and committee members also to apply for a waiver if it would enable attendance in person?
ACTION: There was not enough time at the AGM to discuss this proposals in depth. ALL: please send JW your thoughts.
- Summary of action points:
- Explore conference fee level for 2023 and possible fee waivers in the light of our balance after this conference. (SFPS committee)
- Review composition of SFPS committee, SFPS executive, and consider instituting the role of Secretary. (SFPS committee)
- Relaunch innovation fund for 2023. (CG to draft form of words for dissemination.)
- Membership Report – Sky Herington
60 individual paid members (40 full members; 17 postgraduate; 3 concessionary).
Plus 16 institutional members = 76 total paid memberships.
Category of associate membership (Global South) = 22 (of which 13 new this year).
Total membership = 98
On the whole, membership figures have crept back up in 2022 compared to the previous year, as predicted given that the annual conference was held (albeit virtually) in late 2021, which is often when we would expect to see a boost in membership the following year. The associate membership initiative, now in its second year, continues to be very successful with a significant increase in associate members this year. There has been an increase in full membership, although this is yet to match pre-pandemic numbers. While concessionary membership has remained steady, there has been a decrease on previous years in postgraduate membership. It is hoped that with the return to the in-person conference, and the ongoing great work by Fraser and Orane with social media and email reminders, that membership will continue to grow (or return to previous numbers, in the case of postgraduate membership). As in previous years, we should continue to advertise membership in January, and again at the time of the publication of the annual volume in June. We should also continue last year’s action point (all members to promote the benefits of SFPS membership to PG students and colleagues), perhaps with a particular emphasis on reaching out to the postgraduate community. ACTION: All members to promote the benefits of SFPS membership, particularly to PG students.
- Conference Secretaries’ Report – Sara Mechkarini and Dega Rutherford
This year’s conference entitled ‘(Post)Colonial Francophone Archives: Commemoration, Preservation & Erasure’ sought to explore contemporary and historical debates surrounding Francophone colonial archives. The initial plan was to hold the conference in person and include 2 online panels to enable associate members who are unable to travel the opportunity to present virtually. However, as the conference date approached, more participants were unable to attend in-person and requested to participate online. The reasons given for online participation were: visa issues, funding issues, ill-health, scheduling conflicts etc. In addition, we believe that the reduced fees for online presentations (£35 concessionary membership and £65 full waged membership for online contribution, versus £75 concessionary membership and £155 for full waged membership for in-person contribution) also influenced participants’ decisions to attend the conference virtually. The increased cost of travel and 2022 cost of living crisis also contributed to this.
In total, 47 abstracts were submitted for this year’s conference, 38 papers were accepted (4 contributors were unable to present on the day). The first day, 18 November 2022, included 3 parallel panels and the Dorothy Blair Keynote delivered by Professor Lia Brozgal. The second day, 19 November 2022, included: 3 parallel panels with two held virtually and screened to an in-person audience, a film Screening ‘The Flesh of History’ by Fabienne Kanor, and the Kate Marsh Memorial Lecture delivered by Dr. Sarah Arens. Due to the challenges of organising a hybrid conference, and the stretched resources of the SFPS association and committee, we took the difficult decision not to include a Postgraduate Researcher Forum or an Early Career workshop in this year’s conference programme.
The conference included a total of 11 panels running in parallel sessions (5 in-person panels, 3 online panels, 3 hybrid panels). The final number of presenters speaking on the panels was 32. Presenters included both established and early career researchers based at a range of institutions in the UK, USA, France, Morocco, Australia, Canada, Italy, Senegal, Cameroon, Algeria, Spain and Guinee. The number of participants who registered for in-person attendance was: 36, while the number of people who registered via eventbrite to attend the two online panels on the second day of the conference was: 30, they attended from a range of different countries.
The conference was successful, it was coherent thematically and many of the papers and ideas explored spoke to each other. Contributors covered a broad range of themes and there were many overlapping and intersecting points of resonance between the different presentations and discussions. Due to the conference’s success and the originality of the theme, we are considering the production of a special issue or an edited volume focused on the contemporary debates surrounding Francophone (post)colonial archives. Although we faced some network issues, particularly with presenters joining from the Global South, we were able to overcome these problems by offering to record and then screen contributor presentations and then take questions via the zoom chat. This worked well, and we suggest that if a hybrid conference model is pursued next year, it would be a good idea to group all online participants in the same panels, or ask presenters to send a recording of their presentation before the conference. Another unfortunate aspect of hybrid delivery is that some presenters did not let us know in advance that they were unable to present, and as a result we had to make last minute alterations to the conference programme. As for our last recommendation, we suggest timetabling online panels as parallel sessions and avoiding the option of an online versus a virtual panel, we found that people overwhelmingly prefer to attend the in-person option.
We are grateful to all of the conference speakers, contributors and chairs as well as the very helpful staff and catering team at Senate House. ACTION: SM and DR to compile handover notes for new Conference Secretaries (Christopher Hogarth + 1). Next year’s Conference Secretaries to consider scheduling online panels at the same time and to restrict other contributions to in-person presentations.
- Publicity Officers’ Report – Fraser McQueen and Orane Onyekpe-Touzet
Compiled/sent monthly mailing every month.
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, and archive of publications up to date). Traffic to the website remains healthy, with over 50,000 hits in every month except July, and spikes around the time of the conference and of monthly mailings and Bulletin issues being posted.
Kept SFPS social media pages active (including sharing details of relevant publications, job vacancies, funding announcements, etc). Currently 747 page follows on Facebook (38 more than last year) and 2,920 Twitter followers (154 more than last year).
Negotiated sponsorship with Liverpool University Press for this year’s conference: sponsorship of £250 agreed for a flyer to be distributed to conference attendees, a standalone website post and banner ad on the SFPS website, inclusion in the monthly mailing, and a pinned tweet on the SFPS Twitter, all promoting relevant LUP titles.
Suggestions for discussion:
The Instagram account, which was initially set up primarily to diffuse content relating to the anti-racist library is now more or less dormant. It’s not clear if we want to have a go at resuscitating this – we’d have to consider what we want to communicate via Instagram, how that would differ from what we’re already doing on Facebook and Twitter, and whether there’s any real appetite among scholars to use Instagram for professional purposes (Twitter has always been the social network of choice from this point of view, although that may change following the recent Elon Musk takeover). ACTION: JW to follow up with KH re progress with anti-racist resources. ALL: if interested in taking on this project, please contact JW.
After some initial interest, members seem to have stopped sharing details of publications and events for us to disseminate them. It may be worth reminding members that this is a benefit of membership, and maybe making them aware of the kind of traffic the website enjoys. ACTION ALL: remember to inform SFPS Publicity Officers of any FPS-related publications and events you would like us to publicise.
Other societies have been more proactive than we have over the past year or two in doing things like organising online events giving advice for ECRs around teaching/research/the job market. Might we be able to organise something like this, drawing on the expertise of the exec committee/established members of SFPS? The Diversity, Decolonization and the French Curriculum collective have been doing some really interesting things in North America – I’m unaware of anything similar in the UK, and it seems like something we’d be well placed to do. ACTION: There was not time in the AGM to discuss this proposal, unfortunately. Please contact JW with your views and/or would like to be involved.
- FPS Bulletin Editor’s Report – Sarah Arens
Two issues of the Bulletin have been published since the last report in November 2021; the double issue (autumn/spring issue 12.2 /13.1 ) included an article by Felisa Vergara Reynold, entitled ‘Maryse Condé’s La vie sans fards: Cahier d’un retour au pays natal?’ and three book reviews by Paul Babinski, Nikhita Obeegadoo, and Julie-Françoise Tolliver. The autumn issue (13.2) included an article by George S. Macleod, entitled ‘Race and Terrorism in French Cinema: Discourses of Whiteness and “Brown Threat” in Nicolas Boukhrief’s Made in France’ and three book reviews by Clare Finburgh Delijani, Mary Anne Lewis Cusato and İpek A. Çelik Rappas.
The BFPS Book Reviews Editor, Jemima Hodgkinson, is currently taking a break from her responsibilities for the final stages of her PhD and SA has covered the Book Reviews Editor role for her since the publication of issue 13.1.
As in 2020, we continue to experience extremely difficult conditions: the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has had devastating effects for colleagues in the field, especially those based outside of European and North American institutions. Additionally, many publishers now only send out review copies in electronic form, which makes it harder to recruit reviewers. I would like to thank all contributors and reviewers of the issues published in 2022 for their time and commitment.
As mentioned in the previous report to improve submissions rates, I have addressed the following action points:
- I have met with the current Advisory Board of the Bulletin (Patrick Crowley, Charles Forsdick, Pierre-Philippe Fraiture, David Murphy, Nicki Hitchcott) to discuss the extension of the Board by members based outside the UK (North America, Africa, continental Europe) to heighten the profile of BFPS and am currently waiting to hear back from two academics I have approached.
- I have advertised the multiple publication opportunities of the Bulletin (traditional academic articles, interviews, [extended] book reviews, contributions to our new ‘Encounters with…’ series, new formats, etc.) on Twitter and will do so via other channels (e.g. Francofil)
- Jemima and I would like to advertise the SFPS Essay Prize, aimed at postgraduate students (pre-final submission of their thesis). This would be in response to a set topic every year that invites a variety of responses but keeps them comparable (e.g. ‘Nationalism’, ‘Revolutions’, etc.) with a strict word limit (up to 3,000 words). The first would receive a cash prize of £100 and, together with the runner-up, would be published in the following issue of the Bulletin. To ensure transparency and diversity, I am currently putting together a jury of members of different career stages.
- Suggested timeline:
- Circulation of the Call for submissions: 16 January 2023
- Deadline for submissions: 14 June 2023, 5pm (GMT)
- Jury decision by: 15 September 2023
- Publication by: 17 November 2023
- Suggested timeline:
- We would like to encourage SFPS members to continue to consider the Bulletin for their publications and kindly ask them to recommend BFPS as an excellent first publication opportunity to their PG students. I’m always happy to have a chat via email or zoom about any questions, suggestions, etc.
ACTIONS: SA to discuss with Treasurer practicalities of sending essay prize money overseas. SA and JH to work with Publicity Officer(s) to increase publicity for prize and for Bulletin in general. SA also to discuss further the possibility, mooted at AGM, of changing Bulletin’s name – maybe to Journal of FPS.
- SFPS Postgraduate Representatives’ Report – Kate Mackenzie, Dyhia Bia & Rebecca Glasberg
No report submitted. No Postgraduate activities organised this year. ACTION: CM to canvas other PG members for ideas of activities for coming.
- Election to SFPS Board
JW thanked all members of the SFPS Board for their hard work and commitment to the Society during 2021-22 – and all those who have confirmed that they are happy to continue in role for the coming year.
Orane Onyekpe Touzet wishes to step down as Publicity Officer after more than 4 years in post. JW thanked OOT for her fantastic work in this role over such a long period, combined last year with the role of Conference Secretary, and invited expressions of interest. ACTION: ALL members please consider volunteering or nominating someone for the role of Publicity Officer, to work with the excellent and very able Fraser McQueen.
Rebecca Glasberg has also stepped down as Postgraduate Representative (US), as she is about to submit her PhD thesis. JW thanked RG for all her hard work, great ideas and enthusiastic support of SFPS during her tenure and looked forward to RG’s continued involvement with the Society. She invited expressions of interest from PG members. ACTION: PG members, please consider volunteering for the role of Postgraduate Representative, working with Kate Mackenzie.
JW also asked for expressions of interest in two roles of Conference Secretary for the 2023 SFPS conference. JW is pleased to report that, after the AGM, Dr Christopher Hogarth kindly agreed to take on the role of Conference Secretary for 2023. A second Conference Secretary is still sought, to work with Chris and the SFPS Committee. ACTION: ALL members please to consider taking on this vital and exciting role or to encourage colleagues/PG students to do so. JW also invited suggestions for the theme of next year’s annual SFPS conference.
- Any Other Business – None.