The Africa Institute hosts Senegalese American poet, translator, and researcher Professor Baba Badji as part of its seminar series to discuss the processing of cultures, people, Négritude, and Blackness (at home and abroad) and how it is mediated using different tongues in his recently published poetry collection, Ghost Letters.

The talk will be titled, “The Wolof is an African Language in Ghost Letters: Translation, Form, History and Black Lives Matter” and hosted on Monday, September 26, 2022 (03:30 pm – 05:30 pm GST) at Khalid School – Auditorium.

This talk rethinks Négritude to plot its relevance for the enduring Black struggles of today. It dwells for a moment about being a refugee from a little town in Senegal, and the author’s journey from Africa to America at the age of eleven to reconnect with his biological father, who the author had not seen since (he was eleven years old). More importantly, he argues how in one sense, an African language in his poetry is his way of reaching out to his roots; and he claims that without the Wolof in it, the poem becomes what he calls “a European poem or an American poem.” In another sense, without the Wolof in a poem that also does not have French, that poem strictly becomes what he call “a Westernized poem”. In turn, if what he calls a “diasporic poem” or “a universal poem” must have Wolof, must have English, and must have French together, the author maintains that the interventions in Ghost Letters offer generative tools that help reimagine the identities he embodies.  More specifically, this talk establishes an alternative interdisciplinary analysis that includes the interpersonal dynamics animating the relationship between cultures, people, Négritude, and Blackness at (home and abroad) in Ghost Letters. These help the author to comprehend the personal dimensions of the Négritude debate across time and space.

About the Speaker

Professor Baba Badji is a Senegalese American poet, translator, and researcher. He is currently an inaugural postdoctoral associate at the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. He earned his MFA in poetry and translation (Wolof, Diola and French) at Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and a Translation Certificate at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow and Edward A. Bouchet Honor Society Fellow. Last spring, Badji was the Inaugural James Baldwin Artist and Scholar in Residence at the University of Virginia Department of French. Badji works on the links between the various forms of postcolonial studies, theory, and practice, with a particular focus on debates about postcolonial translation theory and Négritude in Anglophone and Francophone cultures. Besides English and French, he is fluent in Wolof, Manding, and Diola (he calls on these languages in his work). Badji’s first full-length poetry manuscript Ghost Letters (2021) was longlisted for the National Book Award.

About the Moderator

The conversation will be moderated by Binyam Sisay Mendisu, Associate Professor of African Languages and Linguistics, The Africa Institute. Read more.

Click here to register your attendance.

The Africa Institute hosts Senegalese American poet, translator, and researcher Professor Baba Badji as part of its seminar series to discuss the processing of cultures, people, Négritude, and Blackness (at home and abroad) and how it is mediated using different tongues in his recently published poetry collection, Ghost Letters.

The Africa Institute hosts Senegalese American poet, translator, and researcher Professor Baba Badji as part of its seminar series to discuss the processing of cultures, people, Négritude, and Blackness (at home and abroad) and how it is mediated using different tongues in his recently published poetry collection, Ghost Letters.

The talk will be titled, “The Wolof is an African Language in Ghost Letters: Translation, Form, History and Black Lives Matter” and hosted on Monday, September 26, 2022 (03:30 pm – 05:30 pm GST) at Khalid School – Auditorium.

This talk rethinks Négritude to plot its relevance for the enduring Black struggles of today. It dwells for a moment about being a refugee from a little town in Senegal, and the author’s journey from Africa to America at the age of eleven to reconnect with his biological father, who the author had not seen since (he was eleven years old). More importantly, he argues how in one sense, an African language in his poetry is his way of reaching out to his roots; and he claims that without the Wolof in it, the poem becomes what he calls “a European poem or an American poem.” In another sense, without the Wolof in a poem that also does not have French, that poem strictly becomes what he call “a Westernized poem”. In turn, if what he calls a “diasporic poem” or “a universal poem” must have Wolof, must have English, and must have French together, the author maintains that the interventions in Ghost Letters offer generative tools that help reimagine the identities he embodies.  More specifically, this talk establishes an alternative interdisciplinary analysis that includes the interpersonal dynamics animating the relationship between cultures, people, Négritude, and Blackness at (home and abroad) in Ghost Letters. These help the author to comprehend the personal dimensions of the Négritude debate across time and space.

About the Speaker

Professor Baba Badji is a Senegalese American poet, translator, and researcher. He is currently an inaugural postdoctoral associate at the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. He earned his MFA in poetry and translation (Wolof, Diola and French) at Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and a Translation Certificate at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow and Edward A. Bouchet Honor Society Fellow. Last spring, Badji was the Inaugural James Baldwin Artist and Scholar in Residence at the University of Virginia Department of French. Badji works on the links between the various forms of postcolonial studies, theory, and practice, with a particular focus on debates about postcolonial translation theory and Négritude in Anglophone and Francophone cultures. Besides English and French, he is fluent in Wolof, Manding, and Diola (he calls on these languages in his work). Badji’s first full-length poetry manuscript Ghost Letters (2021) was longlisted for the National Book Award.

About the Moderator

The conversation will be moderated by Binyam Sisay Mendisu, Associate Professor of African Languages and Linguistics, The Africa Institute. Read more.

Click here to register your attendance.

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