Nathalie Etoke - "Shades of Black" - Larissa Brewer-García

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Nathalie Etoke

Nathalie Etoke will discuss Shades of Black. She will be joined in conversation by Larissa Brewer-García, Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago.

Presented in partnership with the Committee on African Studies and the University of Chicago's Office of the Provost

Virtual event


About the book: One might say that the womb of death—the Middle Passage, slavery, and colonization—gave birth to Black populations. Taking this observation as her point of departure, Nathalie Etoke examines Black existence today in her riveting new book, Shades of Black. In a white-supremacist world, Black bodies hold a specific position, invested with a range of meaning that maintains them in a fixed role, with a script they did not write. The white world has invented and defined the Black person according to its own interests, endowing her with a bereaved humanity. The Black person is confronted with an essential paradox—exist as Black or as a human being? Does the Black person exist for herself or for the other? In the white world, is the Black race the embodiment of a sub-humanity? Situated at the crossroads of three countries—Cameroon, France, and the United States—Etoke is uniquely positioned for this polyphonic reflection on race. She examines what happens when race obliterates historical, social, cultural, and political differences among populations of African descent from different parts of the world. Focusing on recent and ongoing topics in the United States, including the murder of George Floyd, police brutality, and the complex symbolism of Barack Obama and Kamala Harris, Etoke explores the relations of violence, oppression, dispossession, and inequalities that have brought us here, face to face with these existential questions: Are you breathing? Are we breathing?

About the author: Nathalie Etoke is Associate Professor of Francophone and Africana Studies at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her articles have appeared in Research in African Literatures, French Politics and Culture, Nouvelles Études Francophones, Présence Francophone, the International Journal of Francophone Studies, and the Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy. She is the author of L'Écriture du corps féminin dans la littérature de l'Afrique francophone au sud du Sahara and Of Melancholia Africana: The Indispensable Overcoming of the Black Condition, which won the 2012 Frantz Fanon Prize from the Caribbean Philosophical Association. In 2011, she directed Afro Diasporic French Identities, a documentary on race, identity and citizenship in contemporary France. Her most recent book Shades of Black was published in April 2021.

About the interlocutor: Larissa Brewer-García is Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago. She specializes in colonial Latin American studies. Her first book, Beyond Babel: Translations of Blackness in Colonial Peru and New Granada (Cambridge University Press, 2020), examines the influence of black interpreters and spiritual intermediaries in the creation and circulation of notions of blackness in writings from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish America. Her next book project examines narratives and images of spiritually venerable men and women of African descent in early Spanish America.

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