Justice You Can See: Representations of the Muslim Body in the Films of Sembene

AVACGIS Guest Lecture Series with Danielle Widmann Abraham (Ursinus College)

Friday, May 7, 2021 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Zoom Virtual Event

Known as “the father of African film,” Ousmane Sembène (1923-2007) wrote, directed, and produced films that explored the effects of economic and social change in postcolonial Senegal. As a Muslim, a Marxist, and a writer who came of age during the counter-colonial period, Sembène was deeply committed to the struggle for justice. Film was for him a useful way to reveal the emergent forms of modernity that shaped family, sexuality, religion, bureaucracy, tradition, urbanization, and capital. This presentation traces how Sembène’s films represent the Muslim body as a site for contesting religion and imaging new moral and social orders in contrast to corruption, greed, domination, and abuse. His films thematize the body as a site where the social reproduction of injustice can be transformed through the rejection of destructive social practices. For Sembène, the Muslim body thus represents the possible materialization of a more fully moral local world. 

Dr. Danielle Widmann Abraham is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Ursinus College where she also holds the Wright Lectureship in Middle East Studies. Her work focuses on precarity and nonviolence in postcolonial Muslim contexts.

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