Decolonial Citizenship: African Women’s Political Practices in Contested Spaces

Black women played an active role in decolonization in the francophone world. However, their voices remain muted in historical narratives of twentieth-century anticolonial movements. This elision of their political and intellectual contributions results in at best a partial understanding of notions of belonging in the French-speaking world and limits the terrain of possibilities for imagining more inclusive forms of political affiliation and participation. Texts such as Aoua Kéita’s autobiography and Ousmane Sembène’s film Emitaï, emphasize the contributions of rural African who were often at the forefront of anticolonial struggle in West Africa. Through strategies of collective resistance that hinged primarily on subversive mobility, they worked to reverse colonial dispossession of land and the erasure of black women’s historical contributions to public politics.

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