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Black Skin, White Snow: Sissako's Soviet Films and the Queer Contours of the Friendship of Peoples.

Jennifer Wilson
Thursday, March 15, 2018
6:00-8:00 PM
3308 Modern Languages Building Map
In “Oktyabr (October)” (1993) and “Rostov-Luanda” (1998), the Mauritanian film director Abderrahmane Sissako shines a light on the experiences of African students in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sissako, like many young Africans at the time, studied in the Soviet Union in the 1980s on a “Socialist Friendship” scholarship, making these two very different films, one a work of fiction, the other a pseudo-documentary, divergent experiments in documenting the displaced self. “Oktyabr (October)” is a near-silent black-and-white drama about an African student in love with a young Russian woman. “Rostov-Luanda” (1998) is a documentary travelogue that follows Sissako as he searches for a friend from his student days in the Soviet Union. Working within the frameworks of diasporic intimacy (Paul Gilroy, Svetlana Boym) and diaspora as practice (Brent Edwards), this paper explores “Oktyabr” and “Rostov-Luanda” as meditations on the uniquely constructed intinerancy of black communities in the Soviet Union, a distinctly "queer" transience all the more intensified by the peripatetic nature of student life.

Dr. Jennifer Wilson is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, she is working on two manuscripts: Radical Chastity: Abstinence and the Political Imagination in 19th Century Russian Literature and Writing the Black Atlantic in Imperial Russia. She has also contributed articles on topics related to Russian literary culture and politics to The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

Please RSVP to if you plan to attend this event.
Building: Modern Languages Building
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: European, Literature, Research
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Slavic Languages & Literatures, Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies