Black Europe and the Mediterranean Wall
A LOYOLA GLOBAL BLACKNESS INITIATIVE
October 26, at 12:30 pm on Zoom.
Discussion led by Eliana Văgălău and Cristina Lombardi-Diop
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This event is part of a 2022-2023 series of initiatives at Loyola University Chicago that celebrate and discuss Blackness in its global instantiations. The conversation with writer Louis-Philippe Dalembert will launch Black Europe, an initiative connecting diasporic writers and artists of African descent based in Europe to each other and to students, faculty, and local communities in the Chicago area to forge a common vision for the future. It will culminate in The Black Europe Symposium, a two-day conference, taking place in person on the Lakeshore Campus on March 23-24, 2023.
Black Europe is an initiative that stems from the French and Italian Programs of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. It is made possible by the contribution of many Loyola partners, including the CAS Dean’s Office, the Provost’s Office, the Institute for Racial Justice, the Honors Program, and the Department of Global and International Studies. It is born out of the belief that education can transcend the classroom, climb over the invisible walls surrounding our campuses, and celebrate literature as the most creative and vital part of cultures.
Taking up residence in multiple linguistic and cultural homes, Black artists and writers have taken on this task by creating visions of the future that challenge fixed notions of place, culture, and identity. Their writing and art resist the imposition of single narratives by denouncing ethnic wars, racial terror, and oppressive technologies for the control of mobility and the self. In more than one way, writing at the borders of culture has been, for them, a work of translatio, that is, a moving along of ideas, words, and images from here to there, and from the present to the future.
The writers and artists we are inviting a Loyola come from a multiplicity of backgrounds, but their work sits at the intersection of Blackness and migration. They explore questions of displacement, postcoloniality, and transnationalism, while providing fresh perspectives on local realities. Their voices are rarely brought into dialogue. Take Louis-Philippe Dalembert’s Milwaukee Blues, for example: a Haitian-born writer currently living in Paris reacts, in French, to the murder of George Floyd in the United States. Reactions to the same event from US-based artists, scholars, activists abound, but what can we learn from this outside perspective, and what happens when multiple views come into conversation? In The Mediterranean Wall, Dalembert gives voice to the perspectives of three migrant women on their perilous journey across the Mediterranean to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa. A Jewish Nigerian from Lagos and an eighteen-year-old Eritrean join on their travels to a Libyan port, where, after boarding a trawler, they meet Dima, an upper-class woman from Syria. How does the violence of the Mediterranean journey connect to the predicament of migrants across the Atlantic? What does it mean to seek a home and a future for global migrants?
Louis-Philippe Dalembert is a Haitian poet and novelist, who writes in both French and Haitian Creole. His works have been translated into several languages. He has received several prizes and awards for his work, among them, a residency at the Villa Medici in Rome, the Grand Prix de la langue française, Polish and Swiss Goncourt Choice 2019, Goncourt des lycéens shortlist for The Mediterranean Wall and the Prix Orange du livre 2017, Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française shortlist and Prix Médicis short list for his novel Avant que les ombres s’effacent.
Trained in literature and journalism, Dalembert first worked as a journalist in his homeland before leaving in 1986 for France, where he obtained his Ph.D. in comparative literature at the Sorbonne with a dissertation on the Cuban author Alejo Carpentier and a Master degree in journalism from the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Paris. Dalembert is a polyglot writer who juggles seven languages and has taken residence in many cities, including Paris, Rome, Jerusalem, Brazzaville, Kinshasa, and Florence. He has written several volumes of poetry, novels, and collections of short-stories, including The Other Side of the Sea (L’Autre Face de la mer) (1998); Les dieux voyagent la nuit (2006); Noires blessures (2011); Avant que les ombres s'effacent (2017); Milwaukee Blues (2021).
Today Dalembert lives between France and Haiti. He is also an avid lover of Westerns and of soccer.
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