Assistant Professor of Gender and Women's Studies
Phone: (269) 387-2643
Mariam Konaté holds a "Licence Es Lettres" in English and "Maitrise Es Lettres" (African Literature) from the Université de Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) as well as a M.A. and a Ph.D. in African-American Studies from Temple University in Philadephia. Dr. Konaté has both a keen interest and a strong background in the study of Francophone and Anglophone African literature and culture as well as in African-American history, literature, and culture. Her interest includes the examination of the changing images of women of African descent as reflected in the West (Europe, America) as well as in Africa in relation to historical, economic, political, and cultural circumstances.
Dr. Konaté especially stresses in her research Black women’s collective thought as a critical theory that reflects their efforts to escape from, survive in, and/or fight against intersecting oppressions of race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, and religion. Her article, "Wearing a Mask. Voluntary Depigmentation among Continental Africans: An Aesthetic Revolution or a Post-Colonial Traumatism?" specifically articulates that focus. This article, which was published in 2009 by Lagos Notes and Records, examines the psychological and socio-cultural motivations that lead Continental African women and an increasing number of men to use chemical products in order to whiten their skin. It also tries to establish a direct correlation between colonialism and the dramatic increase in skin bleaching as a social, cultural, and aesthetic trend in several African countries since the 1970s. Dr. Konaté is equally interested in the changing roles of African women who, through the interplay of gender, economics, and power are redefining themselves in America and in post-colonial African societies. Women’s empowerment through self-determination is ubiquitous in the writings of many contemporary African and African American women writers whose works Dr. Konaté teaches about in her courses. Her book, Heroism and the Supernatural in the African Epic, was published in June 2010 by Routledge. The book underscores the crucial role that women play in the hero’s life and rise to power as well as in his initiation to supernatural powers. Her article, "Heroism and the Supernatural in the African Epic: Toward a Critical Analysis," published in 2008 in the Journal of Black Studies, also emphasizes the above mentioned research interests.