Joel Akinwumi, PhD Student of French, shares about his research on collective forgetting and identity, along with why he chose to pursue graduate studies at UBC.
“Scholars have tended to view forgetting as the opposite of memory. However, my research thus far has revealed that there is no conflict between the two concepts and that one is essentially an integral part of the other.”
My research topic is entitled “Collective Forgetting and Identity in Francophone African and Caribbean Literatures”. It is driven by two major questions: (i) to understand the nature and implication of the notion of forgetting in relation to two essential issues: colonialism and transatlantic slave trade, and (ii) to understand how the balance between memory and forgetting works and how that contributes to the construction of collective identity in postcolonial African and Caribbean Literatures.
Scholars have tended to view forgetting as the opposite of memory. However, my research thus far has revealed that there is no conflict between the two concepts and that one is essentially an integral part of the other. I have also been able to explain how forgetting is ingrained in discursive practices, and how in some historical circumstances it is a corollary of political or oppressive ideologies.
My research cuts across many academic disciplines such as psychology, history, and particularly literary studies. While my research focuses on African and Caribbean Literatures, this research topic was largely inspired by the works of Paul Ricœur, Edouard Glissant, Edward S. Casey, and many other thinkers in the field of memory studies.
I hope it will raise new questions and spur new conversations around the concepts of memory and forgetting. In addition to turning my dissertation into a book manuscript upon its completion, I also intend to present portions of it to people outside the academic world. By so doing, I believe my research will gain more visibility.
Graduate Student Experience
“I do not have any regrets choosing UBC as an institution to further advance my quest for knowledge. I have benefited immensely from the expertise of our professors.”
I am very passionate about research. I like to read and to discover new things for myself and creatively share them with others. I believe embarking on graduate studies affords me the opportunity of learning new things and expanding my horizon of thought. The second reason is linked to my career goal. I have always seen myself working within the academic community. Going through a graduate program brings me one step closer to achieving this ambition.
UBC is undoubtedly one of the foremost universities in the world in terms of research outputs and conducive learning environment. The Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies is equally endowed with experienced scholars in the field of Francophone literatures. I do not have any regrets choosing UBC as an institution to further advance my quest for knowledge. I have benefited immensely from the expertise of our professors.
My graduate supervisor is Dr. Gloria Onyeoziri. I have been able to benefit from her wealth of experience of about thirty years. She is patient, supportive, and current with new research orientations. She has exposed me to the works of great thinkers and taught me how to survive academically.
She, along with other committee members, Drs. Nancy Frelick and Sima Godfrey, have contributed to my progress in this program. Their incisive comments on my manuscripts, their readiness to share their insights with me and suggest materials for further readings have helped me tremendously.
I have also benefited from the words of wisdom from Dr. Robert Miller, who has taken an unexpected interest in me and has been mentoring me since I arrived at UBC.