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Dr. Dominique Somda: Women, race, identity and memory in contemporary African societies

November 18th, 12:00 PM EST (6:00 PM SAST)

[View video recording below]

Dr. Somda’s research focuses on the complex legacies of slavery and its memorialization in Madagascar, Benin, and South Africa, especially in the ways in which the latter relates to common assumptions about race and identity, driving the politics of essentialization and ethnicization in contemporary African societies. Dr. Somda also studies the representational politics around the depiction of women’s agency, slavery and colonialism in film, most notably in recent films like The Woman King, and Black Panther. Her ongoing multi-sited ethnographic work continues to shed light on the everyday lives of African women, as they navigate and contend with challenges and possibilities presented by social, economic and political crises and struggles in the present era.

Dr. Dominique Somda is a Research Fellow with the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. After earning a Ph.D. from the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre, where she was a member of the Laboratoire d’Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative, Dr. Somda conducted research and taught at various institutions in Europe, North America, and Africa, including Fondation des Maisons des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris, London School of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, and Reed College. Her work focuses on how inequality − or conversely egalitarianism − emerges through everyday practices, and engages the anthropology of slavery, democracy, Christianity, as well as feminist and postcolonial studies.