AFIAfrican Feminist Initiative

Naminata Diabate, Naked Agency

Naminata Diabate, Naked Agency

Original Date: April 8, 2020

Naked Agency explores the political significance, the cultural underpinnings, the artistic restaging, the global implications, and the conceptual complexities of a gesture. Known as genital cursing and genital power, this gesture is mature women’s collective aggressive removal of clothes or threat thereof during socio-political duress in sub-Saharan Africa. Analyzing a variety of cultural products on naked protest–newspapers, pictorial arts, oral tradition, narrative film, documentaries, novels, autobiographies, and social media– the book (1) establishes the historical life of this gesture; (2) proposes a new concept (naked agency) and reading praxis for a deeper account of naked protest, (3) explains the biopolitical/necropolitical conditions that undergird its proliferation.

About Dr. Naminata Diabate

Naminata Diabate is an associate professor of comparative literature at Cornell University. A scholar of gender, sexuality, and race in Africa and African diaspora studies with linguistic expertise in Malinké, French, English, Nouchi, and Spanish, her work seeks to redefine how we understand specific forms of embodied agency that determine the neoliberal present in global Africa. Taking as her archives literary fiction, cinema, visual arts, digital media, and field research, Diabate’s most recent work has appeared in a monograph, peer-reviewed journals, and collections of essays, including Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (2020), Routledge Handbook of African Literature (2019), African Literature Today ALT 36 (2018), Critical Interventions (2017), Research in African Literatures (2016), and Fieldwork in the Humanities (2016). Her book, Naked Agency: Genital Cursing and Biopolitics in Africa was published by Duke University Press in 2020. Currently, she is working on two monographs, “The Pleasure Turn in Neoliberal Africa” and “Digital Insurgencies and Bodily Domains.”