ReFocus: The Films of Ousmane Sembène

deadline for submissions: 
August 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Sérgio Dias Branco
contact email: 

Senegalese Ousmane Sembène was one of the most important African artists of the 20th century as a writer and a film director. Yet there are only a handful of studies on his cinematic body of work. They usually adopt the same structure: the analysis of his films in chronological order. This essay collection tackles his work and legacy in a deeper way. Sembène articulated his observations in fiction films instead of documentaries, embracing the African tradition of telling and transmitting stories that creatively reflect the circumstances of a people. His films have strengthened the cause of liberation from colonial domination and other forms of oppression. His cinema portrayed economic, social, racial, gender, and religious tensions with a keen political awareness rooted in the knowledge of the history, culture, and reality of Senegal, a former French colony.

We are currently soliciting 150-250 word abstracts for essays to be included in an essay collection on Ousmane Sembène to be published by Edinburgh University Press as part of ReFocus, a series of film studies anthologies edited by Robert Singer (CUNY) and Gary D. Rhodes (Queen’s University Belfast) that examines overlooked directors.

This book will follow an interdisciplinary approach to Sembène’s cinema that critically situates and examines him as an African filmmaker and a political artist. We encourage proposals connected with three general topics (but proposals somehow unconnected to them will also be considered): 

•  the (post-)colonial reality of Senegal and the historical and political demands placed upon artists, according to Sembène;

•  Sembène’s vision of culture as embodying the condition of being human, as he conveyed in a lecture at Indiana University-Bloomington and demonstrated in his own creations;

•  the analytical style of Sembène’s filmmaking in particular films — since “it is not enough to see, one must analyze,” as he once said to Jean Rouch.

Essays included in the refereed anthology will be approximately 8,000 words, referenced in Chicago endnote style.


Please attach a CV with your abstract and email them by 1 August 2017 to:

Sérgio Dias Branco

Faculty of Arts and Humanities

University of Coimbra