Please note that part of this event will be in French
In converstation with Scholastique Mukasonga following the 2020 Zaharoff Lecture, held on Wednesday 11th November at 5pm. The four speakers will bring their different perspectives to the crucial question of witnessing/testimony which will be discussed in Scholastique's Zaharoff lecture. Watch the 2020 Zaharoff Lecture here.
Dr Julia Viebach, Departmental Lecturer in African Studies at Oxford's African Studies Centre
Dr Catherine Gilbert, Academic Track (NUAcT) Fellow, School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University
Chaired by Professor Catriona Seth, Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature; Fellow of All Souls College. Catriona Seth was brought up in Switzerland, Belgium and South America and has spent most of her working life in France. She is well known, amongst other things, for her work on French literature and cultural history of the Enlightenment.
Born in Rwanda in 1956, Scholastique Mukasonga experienced from childhood the violence and humiliation of the ethnic conflicts that shook her country. In 1960, her family was displaced to the polluted and under-developed Bugesera district of Rwanda. Mukasonga was later forced to leave the school of social work in Butare and flee to Burundi. She settled in France in 1992, only 2 years before the brutal genocide of the Tutsi swept through Rwanda. In the aftermath, Mukasonga learned that 27 of her family members had been massacred. Twelve years later, Gallimard published her autobiographical account Inyenzi ou les Cafards, which marked Mukasonga’s entry into literature. This was followed by the publication of La femme aux pieds nus in 2008 and L’Iguifou in 2010, both widely praised. Her first novel, Our Lady Of The Nile, won the Ahamadou Kourouma prize and the Renaudot prize in 2012, as well as the Océans France Ô prize in 2013 and the French Voices Award in 2014, shortlisted for the 2016 International Dublin Literary award and Finalist for 2019 National Book Awards for Translated Literature with The Barefoot Woman. In 2020, her novel Our Lady Of The Nile is adapted as film by Atiq Rahimi. The Film won the “Crystal Bear” at Berlinale 2020 and be part of the Official Selection for TIFF 2019.
Professor Catriona Seth, Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature; Fellow of All Souls College. Catriona Seth was brought up in Switzerland, Belgium and South America and has spent most of her working life in France. She is well known, amongst other things, for her work on French literature and cultural history of the Enlightenment.
Dr Julia Viebach
Dr Julia Viebach is a Departmental Lecturer in the African Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. Her work centres on violence, memory, trauma and transitional justice with a regional focus on post-genocide Rwanda. She is the curator of the award-winning Kwibuka Rwanda photographic exhibition and Traces of the Past installation showcased at Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum. Currently she is leading the oral history project ‘Memory Figurations’ that explores diaspora memories of survivors of the 1994 Genocide living in the UK and the US.
Dr Catherine Gilbert
Dr Catherine Gilbert is currently an Academic Track (NUAcT) Fellow in the School of Modern Languages at Newcastle University, having recently completed a two-year Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship at Ghent University, Belgium (2018-2020). Her project, ‘Genocide Commemoration in the Rwandan Diaspora’, investigates the impact of place and displacement on commemorative practices within diasporic communities. More broadly, her research interests span postcolonial African literatures and cultures, with a particular focus on cultural memory, trauma and narrative. Her first monograph, From Surviving to Living: Voice, Trauma and Witness in Rwandan Women’s Writing (Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2018), received the SAGE Memory Studies Journal and Memory Studies Association Outstanding First Book Award in 2019. She has recently co-edited, with Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro, the volume On Commemoration: Global Reflections upon Remembering War (Peter Lang, 2020).