The Chair on Gender 2021

In 2021, the Chair on Gender of the GIS Institut du Genre will host two foreign researchers for one month: Sara BORILLO, lecturer at Roma Tre University where she teaches Islamic Law, and post-doctoral researcher at the International University of Rabat; and Cheryl TOMAN, specialist in African francophone women’s literature, full professor of French at the University of Alabama.


Sara Borrillo is currently a lecturer at Roma Tre University where she teaches Islamic Law. She is also a postdoctoral researcher at the International University of Rabat. In 2014 she obtained her PhD at the University of Naples L’Orientale where she was then a postdoctoral researcher (2015-2019). Between 2016 and 2018 she was a lecturer at the University of Macerata, where she taught History of Islamic Countries. She was an associate researcher at the Centre Jacques Berque pour les Sciences Humaines et Sociales (CNRS) in Rabat (2012-2014) and a visiting researcher at the IRMC (Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain) in Tunis (2016). Her research interests focus on the history of women’s movements, gender politics and Islam, secular and Islamic feminisms, new female religious authorities, contemporary Islamic thought, artivism and socio-political transformations after the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

Research Project - Artivism, Gender and the Reconfiguration of Activism in the Public Space in Morocco and Tunisia after the 2010-2011 Uprisings

This project aims to explore the impact on the reconfiguration of gender relations, visibilities and rights in the public space of new forms of activism involving creative practices for a new egalitarian citizenship in North Africa, after the 2010-2011 uprisings. In particular, the research aims to detect and reflect on the dynamics and revolutionary potential of "artivism" (activism through art) produced in the social and political engagement of Moroccan and Tunisian activists critical of intersecting forms of inequality and injustice. In a context of disenchantment and exclusion experienced after the repression that followed the revolutionary moment, this project aims to observe how and why reconfigurations of modes of contestation are realized through the production of a new "aesthetic citizenship", which consists of reinvented "acts of citizenship", where dissent is displayed in the form of fictitious performances that burst into the space of the city.

Cheryl TOMAN

Cheryl Toman is a specialist in African francophone women’s literature and a full professor of French at the University of Alabama. Between 2003 and 2020, she was Director of the Feminist Studies Program and Ruth Mulhauser Professor at Case Western Reserve University (USA). She is currently working on a monographic study of Malian women authors after publishing two books, Women Writers of Gabon (2016) and Contemporary Matriarchies in Cameroonian Women’s Writing (2008). Her essays can be found in over fifty journals and critical works. She is a two-time Fulbright scholar and in 2011 was a scholar-in-residence at the Maison Dora Maar in Ménerbes, France for her book project on Gabonese women novelists. She was named "Officer" of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2020.

Research project - Women’s writing and wassoulou in Mali: voices in the fight against violence against women

Sociologist Tanella Boni analyzes violence against African women by identifying multiple perpetrators: colonialism, tradition, men, and sometimes women themselves (2008). In Mali, women’s writing and the musical genre known as wassoulou are the tools that some uninitiated Malian women use to express themselves against the injustices they suffer. I am currently writing a book that is a comparative study of women’s literature and wassoulou in Mali. I propose as a research project to work specifically on this book and more specifically on a chapter and parts of chapters that focus on texts and lyrics of wassoulou songs that address political conflicts and attacks in Mali. These texts denounce all forms of violence against women while emphasizing that men and women experience conflict and its associated violence differently.