Naminata Diabate is an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is a member of the core faculty in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (FGSS), and affiliated faculty in the Department of Literatures in English; Romance Studies; Africana Studies and Research Center (ASRC); Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies (LGBT); Performing and Media Arts (PMA); and Visual Studies. Diabate holds a PhD in Comparative Literature with dual concentrations in African Diaspora Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies from the University at Texas at Austin (2011).
A scholar of African and African diaspora studies and sexuality and gender studies with linguistic expertise in Malinké, French, English, Nouchi, Spanish, and Latin, her work seeks to redefine how we understand specific forms of embodied agency in the neoliberal present in global Africa. Diabate engages multiple sites, including novels of 20th and 21st centuries, online and social media, pictorial arts, film, journalism, and oral traditions from Africa, black America, Afro-Hispanic America, and the French Antilles. Her most recent provocations of defiant disrobing, erotic pleasure, and the impact of Internet media on queerness have appeared in her book, Naked Agency: Genital Cursing and Biopolitics in Africa (Duke University Press, 2020), peer-reviewed journals, and collections of essays, such as African Studies Review (ASR), Journal of the African Literature Association (JALA), Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Research in African Literatures (RAL), African Literature Today (ALT), Interventions, Routledge Handbook of African Literature, and Fieldwork in the Humanities. Her book, Naked Agency, was awarded the African Studies Association (ASA) 2021 Best Book Prize and the African Literature Association (ALA) 2022 First Book Award.
In addition to her interventions in the conventional academic channels, Diabate contributes regularly to several media outlets, including newspapers, women’s magazines, and podcasts. Recently, she appeared in NBC News, BBC’s the Comb, PBS’s Academic Minute, The New Books in Women’s History podcast, and the South African Podcast series, Sound Africa, and wrote for the women’s magazine Voix/Voie de Femme in Côte d’Ivoire. Diabate’s forthcoming work will appear in The Journal of the African Literature Association (JALA) and two edited volumes, New Visions in African and African Diaspora Studies and The Archive in African Literature 1800-2000. Currently, she is working on two monographs, “The Problem of Pleasure in Global Africa” and “Digital Insurgencies and Bodily Domains”.