Soraya Mekerta, Ph.D.
Director of the African Diaspora and the World Program and Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Spelman College
President, Spelman College Faculty Council
University of Minnesota, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, M.A.
Université Paul Valéry, M.A.
Université Paul Valéry, B.A. Biography
At Spelman College Dr. Soraya Mekerta is Director of the African Diaspora and the World Program, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies in the Department of World Languages and Literature, President of the Faculty Council, and Vice-President of the African Literature Association. She teaches a variety of discipline based and interdisciplinary courses, including French language and literature, Francophone literature, African/Francophone film, African Diaspora and the World, and she has taught Introduction to Women Studies and Introduction to the Middle East and North Africa.
Dr. Mekerta is an innovative, inspiring and engaging teacher. She teaches a wide variety of courses from an interdisciplinary perspective. When she teaches French language courses, Dr. Mekerta is known to be highly energetic, dynamic, enthusiastic, and very effective. In her upper division French and Francophone courses, she focuses on how literature, language , and culture reflect attitudes towards destiny, life and death, and become sites of resistance to multiple systems of oppression. Also, she focuses on revolutionary movements in France, the Francophone World, and Africa, particularly, decolonization, liberation struggles, strategies of resistance, and empowerment. Dr. Mekerta created and developed several courses, which she continues to teach. These include upper division courses such as “Introduction to Francophone Literatures,” “Trauma and Memory in North-African Immigrant Literature,” and “African/Francophone Cinema.” Also, Dr. Mekerta is one of the founding members of the African Diaspora and the World course, and she continues to teach the two semester course sequence required of all first year students, ever since its inception in 1994. During the summers of 2008 and 2009, Dr. Mekerta was invited to develop and teach a course at Spelman, “An Introduction to the Middle-East and North-Africa,” for the Institute for International Public Policy, for sophomores from all over the country. In 2009, Dr. Mekerta was awarded the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award from Spelman College.
Dr. Mekerta’s impact as a global thinker and scholar is also reflected in her numerous scholarly presentations, invitations, and in her publications. Her scholarly presentations, articles, and work, focus on French and Francophone Literature and Culture, North Africa, North African Literature in French, the North-African community in France, the Francophone Caribbean, the African Diaspora in France and Canada, the greater Arab world and the Middle East. Dr. Mekerta has conducted research on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings/Bombers. She was invited to present her research at the University of Oxford, England, Manchester College, during a week-long Think Tank and Discussion on the topic of Terrorism, at the Oxford Round Table (July 18-23, 2011). Additionally, Dr. Mekerta has made several scholarly presentations on the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, with a focus on Tunisia, and Egypt. She has published articles in refereed scholarly journals and scholarly books (nationally and internationally), on topics which include the concept of destiny in Islam, in the Arab World, and the Arab Diaspora; Islamic Feminism and the concept of justice in Islam; Trauma, ancestral memory, and Diaspora connections; North-African immigrant Literature in French; and Algerian literature in French. Also, she has published on issues related to pedagogy and methodology in language teaching/learning, and she has published articles on Aimé Césaire and Nawal El Saadawi. Her articles have appeared in scholarly journals and books in Canada and the United States. The journals include, Laval Théologique et Philosophique, The Journal of the Association for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Arts, The Journal of The African Literature Association, and The Ram’s Horn. Books in which her articles have appeared include the Proceedings of the World Congress on Human Co-Existence and Sustainable Development, eds. Venant Cauchy, Michel Cauchy, and Corinne Gendron (Montreal: Montmorency, 2001), and African Visions: Literary Images, Political Change, and Social Struggle in Contemporary Africa, eds. Cheryl Mwaria, Sylvia Federici, and Joe McLaren, (Greenwood Press, 2001). Dr. Mekerta is also a creative writer and performer. As a creative writer she works at the intersections and in the border zones of a variety of fields and disciplines. These include literary studies and theory, cultural studies, political science, history, psychology, women studies, philosophy and religion, Middle Eastern and North African studies. Her most recent creative and scholarly article, “Poetic Justice: Transnational Considerations on War, Injustice, Terrorism, and Liberation; toward and Ethically Grounded (Islamic) Feminism,” has been accepted for publication in Transnational Transgressions African Women Struggles and Social Transformations in Global Perspective, eds. M. Bahati Kuumba and Monica M. White, (Africa World Press, 2013). Currently, Dr. Mekerta is working on a fictional memoir on race, identity, and citizenship across three continents.
Dr. Mekerta, who came to Spelman in 1992, is known to be a highly dedicated, engaged, and committed member of the Spelman Community. She served and/or continues to serve on several committees. These include the Tenure and Promotion Review Committee (three years), the African Diaspora and the World Committee (18 years), the Honors Program Advisory Committee (12 years), the Women Studies Advisory Steering Committee (18 years), the International Affairs Center Advisory Committee (17 years), the Global Education Advisory Committee, and the Faculty Council Committee (two terms of three years each). Currently, Dr. Mekerta is the President of the Faculty Council, and the Director of the African Diaspora and the World Program (ADW). Nationally, Dr. Mekerta serves as Vice-President of Executive Board of the African Literature Association (ALA). Also, she is the President of the Francophone Caucus of the African Literature Association.
Dr. Mekerta is from Algeria, and she was born during the revolutionary war against French colonialism. (1954-1962). She traces her passion for justice and the fact that she is outspoken about injustices and oppression, to the moment of her birth, and those early years of revolutionary struggles for independence. She considers herself a Scholar/Activist. She received her formal education in France and in the United States. She holds a Ph.D. in French from the University of Minnesota (with a concentration in Francophone Studies and Literature, Decolonization, and Revolutionary Theory/Movements); an MA in French (Literature and Language), also from the University of Minnesota; a Maîtrise (equivalent of the MA) in English from the Université Paul Valéry in France (with a concentration and thesis on nineteenth century British literature); and a License (equivalent of the BA) in English (Language, Literature, and Civilization), also from the Université Paul Valéry in France.