All posts by Jeannette Acevedo Rivera

The veil in _Paris, je t’aime_…

Since we’re reading about the veil in France, I wanted to share the short film «Quais de Seine», directed by Gurinder Chadha and included in the anthology _Paris, je t’aime_ (2006). This is a beautiful story about the encounter between a Muslim young woman and a French guy by the Seine. I really liked how the director tried to present some stereotypes deeply rooted in French society (about youngsters, Muslim families, etc.).

The short is less than 6 minute-long, and it has English subtitles. Enjoy!





Reading Aimé Césaire’s _Cahier d’un retour au pays natal_…

Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal has been identified as a “revolutionary” text, not only because of its content, but also because of its linguistic particularities. In the poem, different linguistic registers and semantic fields combine in order to convey the experience of the poetic subject who “returns” to the native land. Using complex medical terminology and references to popular culture, Césaire’s text portrays the different dimensions of that new vision of the motherland (physical, spatial, philosophical, etc.). Because of its richness of vocabulary and its metaphors, personifications, and other poetic images, the Cahier is frequently condemned as hard to read. Critics have identified around 150 words that are difficult to understand for an average reader the first time they face the text. For this reason, the poem is described as “hermetic” and “impenetrable”. I would like to know what your experience reading the Cahier was. Did you think it was a completely inaccessible text? Were you able to understand the references Césaire includes in the poem? Do you think the previous texts we’ve read in class helped you better understand the Cahier?

When reading the Cahier I also want you to pay special attention to the IMAGES and SOUNDS that Césaire transmits through the written text. Notice the density of the Caribbean vegetation, the sounds in the little church, the red blood, etc. The iconography of the poem is fascinating, and we will go more into detail about it in class on Tuesday.

Here’s a video of Césaire describing how he met Léopold Sédar Senghor when he first got to Paris as a “lycéen”. We will talk more about Sédar Senghor and the concept of “négritude” on Tuesday. (PS: Césaire’s narration is adorable!)



Haiti bans plastic bags and foam containers…

A new ban came into effect today in Haiti: plastic bags and foam containers will not be imported,manufactured or marketed in the island. You can read an article on the story here.

Do you think this ban will be effective and respected by everyone in the island? What do you think will be the social impact of this ban, considering that, as they state in the article: “In Haiti the black plastic bags are the primary mode for transporting items among Haiti’s poor who shuffle back and forth to open air street markets on an almost daily basis”?

Gender in Fatou Diome’s _Le Ventre de l’Atlantique_

I want to urge you to pay attention to gender constructions in _Le Ventre de l’Atlantique_.

*Analyze the depiction of the female narrator and the way her gender influences her approach to the following topics:

-her brother’s passion for soccer

-the idealization of France by her brother

-gender roles in Niodior

-African immigration in France

*On page 41 (French version) she says: “Je suis une féministe modérée. […] Je n’aime pas les sous-missions, je préfère les vraies missions. […] Alors, mes hormones de féminité, je les garde!” How is she a feminist? How does her decision of living in France (as a writer) defy the typical role of women of her community back in Niodior?

*How are women in that community idealized or romanticized by the narrator? What do you think about the dances they (including the narrator) perform? How does the way men treat them reproduce the treatment that French people give to Africans in general (as presented in the novel)?

Africans in France (workers, sans-papiers, etc.)…

Here are some images that could be useful for our discussion about African colonies and African immigration in France on Tuesday.

This one is from an article on “Slate Afrique” on the “sans-papiers”.


This one is from an article on “Media Part” about a protest in Dijon against neoliberalism and modern slavery.


This one is form an article on “Parti Ecologique Ivoirien” on the different voices that claim the regularization of immigrant workers in France.


This is the image they used originally to promote Banania, a French brand of chocolate powder. Analyze this image and think about the reasons why they used a Senegalese “tirailleur” (skirmisher or sharpshooter) to advertise this product.


And this is a great short clip from “Afrique Arte TV” (in French) about African workers who were on strike in Paris to demand the regularization of their situation.

Hopefully you’ll have a chance to take a look at the images/articles and the video before Tuesday, and come to class with concrete ideas about the situation of Africans in France.