At Cornell University, 17 October 2019: Tobe Levin on Fiction to End FGM

Female genital mutilation thrives on authority over female bodies that has been challenged by a vibrant movement of audacious youth and seasoned authors in Diaspora and in many nations where excision prevails.  In this lecture, I’ll discuss Linda Weil-Curiel’s screenplay Bintou in Paris (1994); Klaus Werner and Uschi Madeisky’s Sharifa’s Three Wishes: With the Kunama in Eritrea (2000); cineaste Ousmane Sembène’s Moolaadé (2004); Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko’s WAAFRIKA 123 (2016), likely the first anti-FGM fiction by a Kenyan transgender playwright, and Jeanie Kortum’s novel Stones (2017), the last two from UnCUT/VOICES Press.  These works uncover a conservative demographic that fears disaster should the ’deeply anchored’ tradition be broken. What emerges as authorizing FGM is terror generated by deeply held beliefs amenable to change by innovative cultural narratives.

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