The 2016 Mellon Faculty Seminar in Paris, France

July 5-15, 2016

Interrogating the French Empire: Exploring the Historical and Contemporary African Diasporic Engagement and Experience in France

The UNCF/Mellon Programs are pleased to offer the 2016 Faculty International Seminar in Paris, France. The working theme for the Seminar is Interrogating the French Empire: Exploring the Historical and Contemporary African Diasporic Engagement and Experience in France. This Seminar will be the second of a three-part series as we query the role of France as a global colonial power, with a focus on West Africa, North Africa, and the Caribbean. The 2016 Seminar in Paris continues the conversation begun in Nantes in 2015 that featured France’s role in the transatlantic slave trade as well as slavery in the Caribbean, examining the period from the end of legal slavery in the mid-nineteenth century until the dawn of independence movements in French-controlled territories in the 1950s and 60s. The period would see a transition in the nature of empire, as the French proceed from pursuing “legitimate commerce” with West Africa (in turning from slave trading) to imposing regimes of political authority throughout significant portions of the African continent that would include Djibouti, Madagascar, the Seychelles, the Comoros, Réunion, and Mayotte; while continuing to control Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Saint-Barthélemy, and French Guiana in the Caribbean. The Asian experience (especially Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam) will also provide context. This will be an interdisciplinary endeavor, bringing to bear various analytics that include literature, cinema, theater, music, etc. The mechanisms by which colonial rule was established, the structure of colonial administration within the metropole itself, the responses to that imposition by indigenous communities as differentiated along lines of status, the nature of colonial economies, forced regimes of labor, world war and military conscription, the introduction of formal western education and its relation to existing systems of learning, colonial service and the rise of western-educated elites, missionary activity, western and local concepts of health care, the rise of organized labor, anti-colonial movements, and the impact of these and other influences on African and Caribbean societies and family life will all be examined, unpacking the colonial experience and its ongoing effects and legacies. Faculty interested in advancing their scholarship and teaching are invited to apply.



Please click here to access an article entitled, "Victim, Risque, Provocateur: Popular Cultural Narratives of Rihanna's Experience of Intimate Partner Violence," co-authored by Dr. Sharon Raynor. Dr. Raynor participated in the 2013 International Seminar in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

Faculty Opportunities

Please click here for more information about the Research Symposium, “The African Diaspora from an Afrocentric Perspective” sponsored by Claflin University and National Association of African American Studies & Affiliates.

UNCF/Mellon Faculty Seminar

Photographs courtesy of the UNCF/Mellon Programs Office, Dr. Marco Robinson, Ms. Brenda Tindal, Dr. Pamela Waldron-Moore and Brazil Cultural.



The 2016 UNCF/Mellon Faculty Seminar took place July 5-15, 2016 in Paris, France. Faculty representing Bennett College, Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Huston-Tillotson University and Spelman College were selected as participants in this Seminar. The theme of the 2016 Seminar, which will be facilitated by Dr. Michael Gomez, Professor of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University, is “Interrogating the French Empire: Exploring the Historical and Contemporary African Diasporic Engagement and Experience in France”.

2016 UNCF/Mellon International Faculty Seminar Participants

  • Dr. Gwendolyn Bookman, Bennett College
  • Dr. Nancy Dixon, Dillard University
  • Dr. Alaine Hutson, Huston-Tillotson University
  • Professor April Lundy, Clark Atlanta University
  • Dr. Soraya Mekerta, Spelman College
  • Dr. Alice Stephens, Clark Atlanta University
  • Dr. Jerry Wever, Spelman College



Eight members of faculty from six UNCF institutions were selected to receive Faculty Residency grants for the 2016-2017 academic year. Four faculty will complete their residencies during the 2016 summer, three during the fall 2016 semester and one will complete her residency during the 2017 spring semester.

Summer 2016 Residency Award Recipients
  • Dr. Keshia Abraham, Florida Memorial University
  • Dr. Richard Benson, Spelman College
  • Dr. Karima Jeffrey, Hampton University
  • Dr. Belinda Wheeler, Claflin University
Fall 2016 Residency Award Recipients
  • Dr. Lawrence Kreiser, Stillman College
  • Dr. Marco Robinson, Rust College
  • Dr. Anastasia Valecce, Spelman College
Spring 2017 Residency Award Recipient
  • Dr. Al-Yasha Williams, Spelman College



Two UNCF Institutions were awarded funding for Teaching and Learning Institutes which took place during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Huston Tillotson University will host a Teaching and Learning Institute entitled, Centering Students in the First Year Composition Classroom: Engagement, Improvement and Pedagogical Practices.

Tuskegee University will host a Teaching and Learning Institute entitled, Forging Direction and Solidifying Our Bases: Eighteen HBCUs with Museums, Galleries and Art Spaces.