‘Global Africas’ Symposium to explore cultural relations between Africa and China

Florida State University’s Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies will welcome two speakers for a three-day symposium examining the complex cultural relationship between Africa and China.

The fourth annual Global Africas event, “Africa and China,” is set for Thursday, Nov. 2, Wednesday, Nov. 8, and Thursday, Nov. 9. The symposium will look beyond geopolitical and economic factors to explore the relationship between Africa and China through a cultural lens.

“By focusing on culture, attendees will gain different perspectives on China’s interactions with African peoples and nations,” said Michelle Bumatay, Global Africas organizer and assistant professor of French at FSU. “The events prioritize the human dimension of these interactions, helping us understand how dialogue and literature shape our understanding of others.”

The symposium kicks off with a talk from Duncan Yoon, an assistant professor at New York University, who will speak about his new book “China in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century African Literature,” which explores the controversial symbol of China in African literature.

There will be a screening of Gabonese director Samantha Biffot’s 2015 documentary “The African Who Wanted to Fly.” The film follows Luc Bendza, a Gabonese man who dreamt of mastering the martial arts thanks to his childhood passion for films featuring martial artists Bruce Lee and Wang Yu. A discussion featuring Bumatay, Associate Professor of Chinese Aaron Lan and Associate Professor of Japanese Franz Prichard follows the screening. The following day, there will be a virtual discussion with Biffot to discuss the documentary and her broader body of work.

The Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies’ Global Africas series works against the tendency to view Earth’s second-largest continent as a single nation and explores the ways in which Africa’s countries and people have always been globally interconnected.

“With the support of the Winthrop-King Institute, the Global Africas events have brought award-winning authors and filmmakers to campus as well as emerging artists and important scholars, which attests to FSU’s status as an important research institution,” Bumatay said.

The events are free and open to the public, but advance registration is required via Eventbrite. Contact Bumatay at mbumatay@fsu.edu with questions.


Thursday, Nov. 2
5-6:30 p.m., Diffenbaugh 009
Talk by Duncan Yoon, assistant professor at New York University

Wednesday, Nov. 8
5-6:30 p.m., Diffenbaugh 128
Screening of Samantha Biffot’s documentary “The African Who Wanted to Fly”

Thursday, Nov. 9
2-3 p.m., Zoom
Discussion with director Samantha Biffot


Duncan Yoon is an assistant professor at NYU interested in the intersections between digital technology and critical thought. Before joining NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, he was an assistant professor of postcolonial literature at the University of Alabama. He served as a Fulbright Scholar to South Korea in 2004 and was a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress in 2018.

Samantha Biffot is a Gabonese director and screenwriter who was born in Paris and grew up between Asia and Africa. After working at several production companies in Paris, she went back to Gabon in 2010 where she started her own production company, Princesse M Productions. Her film “The African Who Wanted to Fly” won the Special Jury Prize at the Festival Escales Socumentaires de Libreville in 2015 and the prize for Best Documentary Film at the Burundi International Film and Audiovisual Festival in 2017.