Manthia Diawara’s “Edouard Glissant: un monde en relation”

Recently, at the University of California-Santa Barbara’s “Caribbean Crossroads Conference” (held on February 21-22, 2012), I had the pleasure of seeing Manthia Diawara’s 2009 film Edouard Glissant: un monde en relation [also see previous post New Film: Manthia Diawara’s Edouard Glissant, un monde en relation].

In his article “Edouard Glissant: un monde en relation, première mondiale du film de Manthia Diawara,” Olivier Barlet explained that in this film, “Glissant is simple, crystal-clear even” and that “the film remains light, like bits of a conversation among friends.” Having now seen the film, I can vouch for this light touch, which in no way detracts from the profound and inspiring nature of Glissant’s musings and pronouncements in the film. The film is divided into four parts: Opacity and the History of Unintelligibility; Diversity in the Black Night: Chaos, Creolization, Metissage and Post-Race; Roots & Imaginary Offshoots: Ecstatic Difference; and De-capitalization and the Way of the World.

The director—who interviews Glissant on a cross-Atlantic voyage from the United Kingdom to the United States on the Queen Mary II and on the writer’s home island of Martinique—remains completely unassuming, maintaining the focus on Glissant’s words, gestures, and silences. This standpoint, coupled by views of the wide seas that unite us, constitute the full hearted charm of the film.

Manthia Diawara is a writer, filmmaker, cultural theorist, scholar, and art historian. Diawara holds a PhD from Indiana University. A professor of comparative literature and Africana Studies at New York University, he is director of the Institute of African American Affairs. Diawara’s work focuses on Glissant’s work, theories, conferences, slavery memorials, jazz, creolization, the vanity of Creole gardens, cultural traces, the complexity of the world and its collective imagination, and economic terrorism, among other topics. He is the author of books such as We Won’t Budge: An African Exile in the World (2003), In Search of Africa (1998), Black American Cinema (1993), and African Cinema: Politics and Culture (1992). His film credits include Bamako Sigi Kan (2002), Diaspora Conversation (2000), In Search of Africa (1999), Rouch in Reverse (1995), and Sembene Ousmane: The Making of African Cinema (1993, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Co-Director).

For more information, see

For an interview with the director (in French), see

For film description (in English), see

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