Cornell University Scholar Wins the Best Book Prize From the African Studies Association

Naminata Diabate, an associate professor of comparative literature at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, received the Best Book Prize from the African Studies Association. The award recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year.

Dr. Diabate was honored for her book Naked Agency: Genital Cursing and Biopolitics in Africa (Duke University Press, 2020).

“This recognition from this stellar intellectual community is a dream of a lifetime. Yet, circulation of the book’s ideas, which the prize enables, is its most gratifying aspect,” said Dr. Diabate, a scholar of sexuality, race, biopolitics, and postcoloniality. “Uncivil self-exposure continues to proliferate on the continent for reasons that I expose in the book.

“It is my hope that Naked Agency will reframe the terms of the conversation on defiant disrobing by inviting readers to take seriously the circulation of women’s grievances and hopes and the (mis)use of their bodies’ images in our hyper-visual world,” Dr. Diabate added.

Dr. Diabate is a graduate of Universite de Cocody a Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Texas at Austin.

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