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© Jihan El Tahri

Seminar 3
SANKOFA, what happened to Solidarity?
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
Sala 3, Zona de Congressos
07.–08.05.2024, 11h–13h,14h–17h

Jihan El Tahri

The notion of Solidarity has recently returned to the forefront of political and cultural debates. The seminar examines the reasoning, conditions, alliances and implications of Solidarity movements of the 1950’s and 60’s, why they were deemed necessary and how they faded into oblivion by the end of the 1970’s. What happened to notions like “Internationalism” that underpinned solidarity between freedom fighters worldwide? We interrogate how and when terrorists are reckoned as liberation warriors or deemed as terrorists? By looking at the tectonic shifts that have occurred in our current World Order since the end of Colonial Empires and end of the Cold War, how do we redefine such concepts? Are they obsolete or are they today more relevant than ever?

Sankofa is the name of the Adinkra Symbol which portrays a mythical bird flying forward with its head looking back. In African Akan culture the symbol translates to: “recognizing the importance of looking to the past to make a better future.” The proposed discussion will highlight how archival narratives – or the lack of them – what Saidiya Hartman would refer to as “Critical Fabulations” and “Missing Frames” are an essential factor in allowing us to reassess the way forward at such a critical juncture in world history. We will dissect some archive footage, picture collections and share anecdotes that have nourished our collective imaginary and become the foundation of some political mythologies. The seminar will Zoom in on the year 1979 as a crucial historic turning point. This eventful year will serve as our point of departure allowing us to emulate Sankofa as a methodology to reconnect the links of the chain between past and present, hoping to unravel pathways that provide us with an alternative grid to plot the future.

Jihan El Tahri (Egypt/France) is a filmmaker, visual artist, writer and producer. Her work has been presented in museums, biennials and other spaces, including: Dak'Art (Dakar), Bamako Encounters, Berlin Biennial, Centre Pompidou (Paris), HKW-Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), The National Museum of Norway (Oslo), Clark House (Bombay), San Ildefonso (Mexico City) and Museum of Modern Art (Warsaw). Her award-winning documentaries include Nasser (2015, premiered in the official selection of TIFF - Toronto International Film Festival), Behind the Rainbow (2008), Cuba, an African Odyssey (2007) and House of Saud (2004, nominated for an Emmy). As well as being a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences (Oscars), he has sat on several selection committees, including of the Locarno Film Festival, Jeune Creation Francophone and Le Fond Franco-Tunisien. She has taken part in numerous film festival juries, including as President of the Documentary Jury at FESPACO.

Registration is free but limited to the number of seats available. Please send an email with a short CV to by 06.05.2024. Confirmation of registration will be sent by email. The seminar will be in English.

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My Image


My Image