Francesca began an MA by Research in 2012 at the University of Birmingham (UK), funded by the Instituto Camões and supervised by Dr Conrad James and Dr José Lingna Nafafé.
Her Master’s research project examines representations and functions of gender in the post-independence fictional narrative of Guinea Bissau, one of five lusophone African countries. She examines the use of gender in reflections of the country’s past and present, and in constructing the imagined national future, as well as the ways in which male and female authors differ in creating these. She is also interested in exploring the experimentation with the boundaries of scribal and oral literature which is prevalent in the Lusophone, and Crioulo literature of Guinea Bissau.
This area of interest sprang from personal enthusiasm for gender and development issues as well as several undergraduate modules, also studied at the University of Birmingham, on the history, cultures and literatures of the Lusophone African world. Guinea Bissau receives relatively little academic attention compared to the bigger, more densely populated former Portuguese colonies, which made it an attractive prospect for my research.
The University of Birmingham has been an ideal institution for my research: events such as the April 2012 Guinea Bissau Literature and Culture event, sponsored by the Instituto Camões and the University, enabled her to meet eminent scholars in the field, including Moema Parente Augel and David Brookshaw, and the presence of a growing Guinea Bissau-focused community has all contributed to her professional development.
In November 2012 Francesca presented a paper at the XIII WISPS (Women in Spanish and Portuguese Studies) conference at Bangor University, Wales, “Men of wars past and women of hope to come: Abdulai Sila’s alternatively gendered Janus in the novel Mistida”. In June she will present the paper ““Cada um de nós ouviu como quis e conta como quer”: The emergence of the colonial cultural encounter as lit/orature in Guinea Bissau” at Cultural Encounters of the Luso-Hispanic World postgraduate conference at the University of Warwick. Her paper, “Raped Africa, Mother Africa, Emasculated Africa: The evolution of the gendered national body in the fiction of Abdulai Sila”, has been accepted for presentation at the international conference Lusofonia Pós-colonial: Línguas, Literaturas e Identidades, to be held on the 23 - 24 September 2013, Lisbon.
Her postgraduate study has also opened me up to experiences and development outside of her research field. As well as teaching beginners’ Portuguese language Francesca has designed and delivered a module titled Introduction to Portuguese Literature, from both of which she has experienced great personal and professional benefit. She has also been involved in a discussion group, Roles: An Interdisciplinary Gender & Sexuality Forum, for which she is co-organising a postgraduate conference at Birmingham on the 10 May 2013.
Francesca plans to pursue a PhD within the fields of gender, post-colonialism and Luso-Africa in the near future.