SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies

African Freedom: Languages, Contexts, History

African Freedom
Dr Phyllis Taoua (University of Arizona)

Date: 22 October 2018Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 22 October 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4429

Type of Event: Seminar


In this seminar, Dr Phillis Taoua will draw from her latest book 'African Freedom: How Africa responded to Independence', Phyllis Taoua discusses how the push for independence in African nations was ultimately an incomplete process, with the people often left to wrestle with a partial, imperfect legacy. Rather than settle for liberation in name alone, the people engaged in an ongoing struggle for meaningful freedom. Phyllis Taoua shows how the idea of freedom in Africa today evolved from this complex history. With a pan-African, interdisciplinary approach, she synthesizes the most significant issues into a clear narrative. Tracing the evolution of a conversation about freedom since the 1960s, she defines three types and shows how they are interdependent. Taoua investigates their importance in key areas of narrative interest: the intimate self, gender identity, the nation, global capital, and the spiritual realm. Allowing us to hear the voices of African artists and activists, this compelling study makes sense of their struggle and the broad importance of the idea of freedom in contemporary African culture.

In this seminar, she will give examples from the book showing how writers and filmmakers have used the idea of freedom in their narratives and then also raise an un-answered question—Is freedom a Western value?— which is part of a newly funded audio-visual project documenting the idea of freedom in African languages and contexts.

Cambridge University Press, 2018.  ISBN 978-1-108-44616-

Speaker Biography

Phyllis Taoua, professor of Francophone Studies (Africa, the Caribbean); affiliated with Africana Studies, the Honors College, the World Literature Program and the Masters in Human Rights Practice at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She is the author of more than fifty publications including two books, African Freedom (CUP, 2018) and Forms of Protest (Heinemann, 2002); editor of special issues on Sony Labou Tansi, Sembène Ousmane, and Mongo Beti. Her publications have appeared in World Literature Today, The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel, Transition, SubStance, Research in African Literatures, Cahier d’Études Africaines, Études littéraires africaines, South Central Review and Journal of African Cultural Studies. She was a Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Resident Fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University; served on the MLA Executive Committee of the Forum on African Languages, Literatures and Cultures; was a Tucson Public Voices fellow with the Op-Ed Project.  Contact:

Chair: Dr Alena Rettova


If you would like to attend the event please register. Online registration

Organiser: SOAS Centre of African Studies

Contact email: