Joint Centre of African Studies (CAS) Edinburgh – Race.Ed Seminars

Joint Centre of African Studies (CAS) Edinburgh – Race.Ed Seminars

Centre for African Studies –

The Centre of African Studies is an internationally recognized hub for research and teaching on African Studies and International Development, within the prestigious School of Social and Political Science.

CAS is the one of the most vibrant and largest African Studies Centre in Europe, undertaking a broad range of cutting-edge and interdisciplinary research.

The CAS Decolonising Working group was set up to provide a space for discussions about race and intersectional inequalities,  and to promote an agenda for advancing inclusion and anti-racism within CAS and SPS. It is co-chaired by SJ Cooper-Knock and Rama Dieng.

RACE.ED is a cross-university network concerned with race, racialization and decolonial studies from a multidisciplinary perspective.

RACE.ED showcases excellence in teaching, research and knowledge, exchange, impact (KEI) in race and decolonial studies at The University of Edinburgh.


25 March 15:30 – 17:00

Title: ‘We have no Harlem in Sudan’: Sudan’s Deflective Diplomacy

Speaker: Dr Sebabatso Manoeli, Senior Director for Strategic Programmes, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, Columbia University

Chair: Rama Dieng, Lecturer in African Studies and International Development at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh

Date: 25th March 2021

Time: 15h30 – 17h


Abstract: This paper investigates the means through which Sudanese governments outmanoeuvred rebels internationally throughout the 1960s by analyzing the intertwining of Sudan’s diplomatic strategies for protecting its reputation in Pan-Africanist and anti-imperialist circles. It argues that Sudan employed a strategy of deflective diplomacy that drew international attention away from the “Southern Problem” while addressing the pertinent areas of reputational damage. This deflection paradoxically placed Sudan in the international limelight as a paragon of Pan-Africanism, while concealing the “Problem” in plain sight. It explores Sudan’s relations with African networks and organizations after the fall of the Abboud regime, specifically in the tenures of the most significant Prime Minister of the 1960s: Mohamed Mahgoub. It demonstrates that through personal networks, conference diplomacy and solidarity efforts, the government proved a formidable diplomatic opponent to the secessionist Southern rebels.

Bio: At Columbia University, Dr Sebabatso Manoeli serves as a Senior Director for Strategic Programmes, the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity. Dr Manoeli is also author of Sudan’s “Southern Problem”: Race, Rhetoric and International Relations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

Previously, Sebabatso served as Acting Deputy CEO and Innovation Director at the Cape Town-based DG Murray Trust. Sebabatso has worked in the fields of academia and development practice. She worked on Transitional Justice and Governance for the Department of Political Affairs at the African Union Commission as a consultant.In academia, she was a Departmental Lecturer in African History at the University of Oxford, where she was the first African woman faculty member in the history department. She has also a Lecturer at Stanford University’s Bing Centre for Overseas Studies and a Teaching Fellow at the University of Fort Hare Institute of Social and Economic Research (FHISER).

Dr. Rama Salla Dieng, is a Lecturer in Africa and International Development at the Centre of African Studies, and the former programme director of the MSc Africa and International Development at  the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies. Her research focuses on agrarian change, feminist political economy and politics of development in Africa. Before the University of Edinburgh, she worked in Policy Research at the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa based in Senegal.

Rama holds an MSc and a PhD in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London and a Masters in International Cooperation & Development & Risks Management in Developing Countries, from Science Po Bordeaux- IEP, France. She also holds a Maîtrise in Political Science, Université Montesquieu, Bordeaux, France



21 April 15:30 – 17:00

Title: How to write about race when you’re white? Shifting blinkers, changing audiences

Speaker: Gauthier Marchais

Chair: SJ Cooper-Knock- Lecturer in International Development at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh

Date: 21st April 2021

Time: 15h30 – 17h


This presentation will reflect on the process of writing about race from the perspective of a white man. Gauthier Marchais will present his book,  “Le Deni Blanc: Penser autrement la question raciale”, which was published in January 2021 at Éditions de l’Aube, in France. The book is a reflection on the mental architecture of whiteness ‘from within’ and its implications, building on the author’s personal experience. The presentation will reflect on the challenges of writing about the personal and intimate dimensions of whiteness, and notably the multifaceted and evolving blind spots which such a positionality inherently carries. It will also reflect on the moral dilemmas of the process, notably the risk of reinforcing the centrality of white voices, and the ways in which the question of the audience shapes the formulation and reception of the arguments. The presentation will open to a broader consideration of the role of ‘white voices’ in contemporary debates on race.


Gauthier Marchais is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. He works on social transformation in contexts of violent conflict. His current research focuses on education in contexts of protracted violence, with a focus on the provinces of South Kivu and Tanganyika, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has also worked on race and whiteness, particularly how they appear in the context of academic research.



19 May

Title: Black Women and The French Citizenship

Speaker: Annette Joseph-Gabriel (University of Michigan) and Mame Fatou Niang (Carnegie Mellon University)

Chair: Nicola Frith

Date: 19th May 2021

Time: 15h30 – 17h

Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire (Annette)

In Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire, Annette Joseph-Gabriel mines published writings and untapped archives to reveal Black French women’s anticolonialist endeavors. She shows how their activism and thought challenged French imperialism by shaping forms of citizenship that encouraged multiple cultural and racial identities. Expanding the possibilities of belonging beyond national and even Francophone borders, these women imagined new pan-African and pan-Caribbean identities informed by Black feminist intellectual frameworks and practices. The visions they articulated also shifted the idea of citizenship itself, replacing a single form of collective identity and political participation with an expansive plurality of forms of belonging.


Identités françaises: Banlieues, Féminités Et Universalisme: 28 (Francopolyphonies)

Identités françaises interrogates notions of marginalization and national identity through an analysis of French banlieues. The display of the quotidian, at the expense of the extraordinary, invites the reader to reconsider the most common images of these urban peripheries and the processes that create citizenship and marginality in republican France. The focus is on the female experience, in works produced by writers and artists from these peripheries. Banlieue women sit at the intersection of marginalities of race, gender and class. The study of these intersections illuminates multiple notions of identity, belonging and peripheralization. Amid the contemporary flare-ups and debates around a single and indivisible French national identity, Mame-Fatou Niang’s work brings to light plural identities rooted in France’s suburban spaces.


Annette Joseph-Gabriel’s research and teaching focus on francophone Caribbean and African literature, with interdisciplinary specializations in Afro-diasporic literary and cultural movements, and slavery in the French Atlantic. She is particularly interested in the ways that people of African descent in the francophone world have contributed to notions of citizenship and freedom on a global scale.

Mame Fatou Niang  is an Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies and the author of Identités Françaises (Brill, 2019). She is also a photographer and the co-author of a photo series on Black French Islam. In 2015, she co-directed “Mariannes Noires: Mosaïques Afropéennes” with Kaytie Nielsen, a sophomore in her French class. The film follows seven Afro-French women as they investigate the pieces of their mosaic identities, and unravel what it means to be Black and French, Black in France. She has collaborated with Slate, Jacobin, and several news outlets in France.

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