Soraya Mekerta, Ph.D.
Title: Director of the African Diaspora and the World Program and Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Spelman College
President, African Literature Association
University of Minnesota, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, M.A.
Université Paul Valéry, M.A.
Université Paul Valéry, B.A.
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, President of the African Literature Association, and Past President of the Faculty Council (2011-2013).
She teaches a variety of interdisciplinary and discipline based courses, including the African Diaspora and the World two semester course sequence and requirement for all first year students, French language and literature, Francophone literature, African/Francophone film, 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. When she teaches beginning and intermediate 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 in Africa. These include decolonization, liberation struggles, revolutions, and she examines strategies of resistance, and empowerment, from the grounds up. 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.”
Dr. Mekerta is one of the founding members of the African Diaspora and the World Program, a two-semester course sequence which she has taught ever since its inception in 1994. Dr. Mekerta was invited to develop and teach “An Introduction to the Middle-East and North-Africa,” for the Institute for International Public Policy, for sophomores from all over the country. She taught the course in 2008 and 2009. Dr. Mekerta was the recipient of the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award which she received in 2009 from Spelman College.
Dr. Mekerta’s impact as a global thinker and scholar is also reflected in her numerous scholarly presentations and invitations, as well as in her publications. Her scholarly works 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 Arab Diaspora, and the Middle East.
Dr. Mekerta was invited to present her research on terrorism and suicide bombings/bombers 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 Algeria, 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 and language learning/acquisition. She has published articles on the late 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 scholar and creative writer she works at the intersections and in the border zones of a variety of fields and disciplines, geographic spaces and cultural sites. These fields and disciplines 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 book tentatively entitled Crossing Borders: from Decolonization to Self-Actualization, a Memoir on Race, Identity, and Citizenship.
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 college-wide and faculty committees. These include the African Diaspora and the World Committee, the Honors Program Advisory Committee, the Women Studies Advisory Steering Committee, the International Affairs Center Advisory Committee, the Global Education Advisory Committee, the Faculty Council Committee, and the Tenure and Promotion Review Committee.
Currently, Dr. Mekerta serves as the Director of the African Diaspora and the World Program (ADW), and she is the President of the African Literature Association, where she also served as President of the Francophone Caucus.
Dr. Mekerta, who is from Algeria, 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 movements and theory); 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.
Dr. Mekerta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org