Mercer Cook and the Origins of Black French Studies

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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In the last couple of decades, research interest in the African diaspora in France has grown exponentially. Scholars across the Atlantic have established networks and are now offering courses on the subject. In 2008 Pap N’Diaye published La Condition noire, a seminal text, which successfully argues that social marginalization in France has created a heterogeneous black French minority. Since then, dozens of articles in academic journals, newspapers, and books have also addressed issues related to the hyper visibility or invisibility of millions of people of African descent in the French Republic. This passion for understanding black experiences in France has given rise to black French studies, an area of inquiry that focuses on black experiences in France and its former colonies, the social and theoretical constructions of black France, and the intersection of black identities and politics in France. Black French studies has transnational roots. The Black France/France Noire conference organized in Paris in 2008 by Trika Keaton, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, and Tyler Stovall, three American scholars with disciplinary ties to African-American and African Diaspora Studies, illustrates the obvious overlaps between this new field of study and scholarly initiatives in the United States.