The Rock Ethics Institute

Home > Events > Black Nuns in Europe: From Slavery to the Convent (and Sanctity)

Events

Black Nuns in Europe: From Slavery to the Convent (and Sanctity)

The main purpose of this lecture is to look at the biographies of three African slave women: Chikaba–Ghana/Spain; Bakhita–Sudan/Italy; and Ourika–Senegal/France; who ended up in Catholic convents in Europe, to see to what extent these life stories conform to or subvert traditional hagiographies, slave narratives and sentimental novels, respectively.
When Feb 17, 2006
from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Where 102 Weaver Building
Add event to calendar vCal
iCal

María FríasMaria Frias

Professor of African American Literature, University of A Coruña (Spain), and 2005-06 Du Bois Fellow at Harvard University

María Frías received a double M.A., one from the University of Alcalá (Spain), and another from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA), and her Ph.D. from the Complutense University in Madrid (Spain). She is the author of "Marriage Doesn't Make Love": El discurso del matrimonio en la obra de Zora Neale Hurston. [Marriage Discourse in Zora Neale Hurston's Works] (Alcalá, 1998), as well as of articles that have appeared in Wasafiri, and Callaloo. Frías has interviewed Marita Golden (Atlantis, 1998), Fred D'Aguiar (Callaloo, 2002), Ama Ata Aidoo (Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses, 2003), Amma Darko (to be published), and Ishmael Reed (to be published). Her latest article, "It Just Ain't Fair. The Ethics of Blacks Health Care and Dental Charity: Maya Angelou, Ernest G. Gaines and Trudier Harris" will be published inEthics and Ethnicity in the Literatures of the United States. Eds. Liste, Simal, and Frias. Lite Verlag [December 2005].

Frías has been on the faculties of the University of Duke, the University of Ghana, and the University of Alcalá (Spain), and she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in African, Anglo-Caribbean, and African American Literature written by women. She has received Distinguished Teaching Awards from Alcala University (1998 and 1999), and from Coruña University (2001 and 2003). She was in charge of the Exchange Program between the University of Ghana and the University of Alcala (1997–1999), and has been appointed External Examiner of Spanish Language and Literature at the Department of Modern Languages, Spanish Section, at the University of Ghana (2004–2007). She has held fellowships from the Freie University (Berlin), Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, and the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio (Italy), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University.

Frías, who taught for ten years in public schools before teaching at the university level, has worked for her institution non governmental organization, and has been involved as an After-School Tutor and Instructor for the local gypsy community. She has also served as a volunteer translator for the Spanish Red Cross in the Emigration and Political Refugees Department. She is currently at work on her book project Black Nuns in Europe at the Du Bois Institute at Harvard University where she is a 2005–06 Fellow.

Black Nuns in Europe: From Slavery to the Convent (and Sanctity)

The main purpose of this lecture is to look at the biographies of three African slave women: Chikaba–Ghana/Spain; Bakhita–Sudan/Italy; and Ourika–Senegal/France; who ended up in Catholic convents in Europe, to see to what extent these life stories conform to or subvert traditional hagiographies, slave narratives and sentimental novels, respectively. I will argue that Chikaba, Bakhita and Ourika embraced convent life as a way out of slavery, unwanted marriage, and/or as an escape from the rampant racism experienced in the European countries which (supposedly) welcomed them. In contrast to the massive body of literature on slavery we find in the African American tradition, little research has been conducted on African European life stories. This comparative study aims to give voice to the lives of African slave women who have been historically ignored, and literarily silenced.