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Translating Egyptians: Race-Consciousness of 1960s Egyptians in the African American Imagination

May Kosba, Program in African Studies

April 10, 2023 · 12:00 pm1:00 pm · 144 Louis A. Simpson Building

Program in Translation and Intercultural Communications

In “…And Bid Him Sing,” a novel by David Graham DuBois published in 1975, the author reflects on his experience as an African American intellectual in self-imposed exile in 1960s Cairo, Egypt. DuBois was the stepson of pioneer Black pan-African intellectual and activist-scholar, W.E.B. Du Bois. His sojourn in Cairo marks a metaphoric return to Africa, a place that “functions as the constituting basis of collective [Black] diasporan identity.”

This presentation shows how Du Bois sets up the novel as a Black diasporic internationalist discursive formation through which he draws the contours of Egyptian and African American “diasporan consciousness.” While different modes of translation seem to dominate the novel’s literary discourse, May Kosba, postdoctoral research associate, argues that the novel primarily grapples with issues of representation, including questions of displacement, authenticity, roots and routes, language, class and race.

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