Sarah Fila Bakabadio

Associate Professor

May–June 2023

Sarah Fila Bakabadio
  • Performing Arts
  • Cities
  • New York
With this residency, I would like to see how dance becomes a gesture towards a different kind of other, to invent a shared political activism and future for Africa and the diasporas.

I am a historian in American and African American studies. I attended universities in the United States (Minnesota State University, CUNY Graduate Center) and in France (Université Rennes 2, the French National School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences). 

My research focuses on political, cultural, intellectual and visual circulation in the Black Atlantic, from the 19th century to the present day, and is based on two questions: how do Africans and Afro-descendants in Europe and the Americas work toward a form of cooperation that could define the Black Atlantic? What dialogues and forms of engagement and solidarity are produced by those (renewed) dialogues? Over the years, cooperation and relation, in the words of Edouard Glissant, have turned into a situated scientific practice, enabling me to recount the world from the perspective of African and Afro-descendant histories. I therefore traced migrations and meetings on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, explored African diasporas, Afro-American nationalism, panafricanism, the black body, black beauty, Black studios in Europe, black cosmopolitism, and, in 2016, I published a study entitled Africa on My Mind: A Social History of Afrocentrism in the United States. 

In my former life I was a dancer, and a member of the Nikita company, with 12 years training in the Horton et Cunningham techniques. In 2018, I returned to the arts after a seminar on art in Africa and the diasporas, entitled African Dialogues, which was co-authored with Christine Douxami, Dominique Malaquais (†), and Julie Peghini.  


Sarah Fila-Bakabadio, who studied in the United States and in France, is a historian in American and African American studies, and an associate professor at CY Cergy Paris Université. She is also the editor of African Diaspora (Brill). Her published works include Africa on My Mind : histoire sociale de l’afrocentrisme aux Etats-Unis (Les Indes Savantes, 2016). For the past 15 years, she has been a researcher and teacher of American and Afro-American histories, and the histories of the diaspora. Her research has been supported by Minnesota State University (2000), the French Ministry of Research and Education (2000-2001), the French National School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (2002), the Fulbright program (2004), the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (2009), and the French National Council of Universities (2017-2021). 


In partnership with

Centre national de la danse (CN D)

As a public establishment founded by the Ministry of Culture, the Centre national de la danse (National Dance Center) brings together all resources aimed at the sector of choreography and its publics in two places, in Pantin (in the Île-de-France region) and in Lyon (in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region). It supports and trains professional dancers, promotes amateur practice, assists with research, conserves and distributes choreographic heritage, and supports the creation of choreographic works in all forms, while promoting a dialogue with other artistic fields.


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