Academics: Faculty

Soraya Mekerta, Ph.D.

Soraya MekertaTitle: Director of the African Diaspora and the World Program and Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Past Immediate President, African Literature Association

Educational Background 

University of Minnesota, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, M.A.
Université Paul Valéry, M.A.
Université Paul Valéry, B.A.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Soraya Mekerta is Director of the African Diaspora and the World Program at Spelman College, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies in the Department of World Languages and Literature, Immediate Past President of the African Literature Association (2013-2014), and Past President of the Faculty Council (2011-2013).  Dr. Mekerta is the recipient of the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award from Spelman College (2009) and the Spelman College Presidential Award for Distinguished Service (2014).

Innovative, engaged, and passionate, Dr. Mekerta is an inspiration to her students.  She teaches a variety of discipline based and interdisciplinary courses.  These include all levels of French language, literature, and civilization as well as courses she created and developed, such as “Introduction to Francophone Literatures,” “Trauma and Memory in North-African Immigrant Literature” and “African/Francophone Cinema.”

Additionally, Dr. Mekerta is one of the founding members of the African Diaspora and the World course sequence (ADW 111 & ADW 112).  She has been teaching the two course sequence which is required of all first year students, ever since its inception in 1994.  Furthermore, Dr. Mekerta taught “Introduction to Women Studies” and she was invited to create and teach the course “Introduction to the Middle-East and North-Africa,” for the Institute for International Public Policy, for minority sophomores from all over the country (2008 and 2009). 

Dr. Mekerta’s impact as a global thinker is also reflected in her scholarship and creative work.  Her numerous scholarly presentations and invitations at national and international professional conferences and meetings, her media interviews, performances, and publications focus on matters of life and death, war, memory, trauma, oppression, resistance, resilience, and empowerment.  She examines revolutions, uprisings, and other forms of protests and resistance in France, the Francophone World, and throughout North Africa and the Middles East, from the perspectives of those who engage in these acts. 

She is interested in how literature, language, culture, film, and performance become a vehicle to reflect attitudes towards destiny, life and death, and become sites of resistance with the promise of liberation.  Dr. Mekerta presented her work on terrorism and suicide bombings and bombers at the University of Oxford, England, Manchester College, during the Oxford Round Table (July 18-23, 2011).  

In addition, Dr. Mekerta made several scholarly presentations on the more recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, with a focus on Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt.  Dr. Mekerta has published and made scholarly presentations in the field of pedagogy and methodology in language and culture acquisition.  Most recently, Dr. Mekerta was invited by the Minister of Education in China to make a presentation during the international conference on language and culture acquisition in Suzhou city, Jiangsu Province.

Dr. Mekerta’s articles have appeared in scholarly journals and books in Canada and the United States as well as in newspapers in Martinique, and her media interviews have resulted in radio shows in Canada and the United States as well as in newspaper articles and magazines in Egypt and Lebanon.  Dr. Mekerta is published in such journals as 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 appear 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). 

Her most recent creative and scholarly article, “Poetic Justice: Transnational Considerations on War, Injustice, Terrorism, and Liberation; Toward an Ethically Grounded (Islamic) Feminism,” was accepted for publication in Transnational Transgressions African Women Struggles and Social Transformations in Global Perspective, eds. M. Bahati Kuumba and Monica M. White, (forthcoming, Africa World Press). 

Dr. Mekerta, who came to Spelman in 1992, is known to be a highly dedicated 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).  In addition, Dr. Mekerta chaired and/or served as a member of several Search Committees for French, Spanish, Portuguese, and African Diaspora.  Most recently, Dr. Mekerta was appointed by the Spelman Board of Trustees to serve on the Presidential Search Committee.

Originally from Algeria, Dr. Mekerta 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 war for independence.  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 Montpellier, 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.

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