Forging Links: Re-imagining disciplinary links

Forging Links offers a platform for innovative research at the crossroads between disciplines and methodologies, all united by their reference to the perpetual and fruitful movement of ideas, methods, peoples and cultures, highlighting connections, transfers, translation, adaptation - in other words, ‘links’ that can be used to generate paradigm shifts.

Stream lead: Dr Berny Sèbe, in collaboration with Gabriela Saldanha.

The concept of the ‘link’ used here stresses dialogue, association and exchange rather than separation, and it can be linear or multipolar, fleeting or resilient, tenuous or strong. The link, which can be physical, ontological, disciplinary, artistic or epistemological, is an element that structures flows and exchanges and the stream examines this dynamic phenomenon within several contexts, which are both interdisciplinary and transregional.

The complexity of links, as non-linear, reflective, dynamic and fluctuating provide a rich subject to explore, and feed the key question which revolves around the nature and potential of ‘links’ in a research context. Our approach emphasizes the links themselves, as opposed to the actual ‘objects’ being linked. Yet, some questions about positionality remain central, such as possibly those challenging the Eurocentric orientation that prevails in the Humanities (‘What would a post-Eurocentric humanities mean? What would it look like?’). The stream draws most of its expertise from research generally undertaken within the area of ‘comparative and world literature’, ‘colonial and postcolonial studies’, ‘memory and exile studies’ and ‘translation studies’, and it draws upon the expertise and initiative of a variety of networks and centres based at the University of Birmingham, such as the Centre for the Study of Hispanic Exile, as well as Francopoco and Postcolonial Birmingham.



  • Anissa Daoudi's research on language and power was on the emergence of new variety of Arabic which I call e-Arabic as a result of globalisation.
  • Rebecca Gould holds a chair in Islamic World and Comparative Literature at the University of Birmingham and works at the intersections of literary, political, and legal theory. 
  • Louise Hardwick is a specialist in Francophone Studies and World Literature, with a particular interest in the global reception, adaptation circulation and translation of Francophone literature.
  • Monica Jato is a specialist  in 20th-21st Spanish Peninsular Literature and Culture (Post-civil War poetry, exile literature, and women’s autobiographical writing).
  • John Klapper's research looks at writing under National Socialism, particularly the non-conformist writers of inner exile.
  • Berny Sèbe explores colonial and post-colonial encounters between European and non-European worlds, in particular in the cultural and political realms.

Doctoral researchers:

  • Sarah Mechkarini  (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Stephen Forcer): ‘Alienation and Identity in Anglophone and Francophone African Novels: Mouloud Mammeri’s Le Sommeil du juste, Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong'o’s The River Between, Assia Djebar’s L’Amour, la fantasia and Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions’
  • Sonia Lamrani (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Anissa Daoudi): ‘Self-Orientalism in the Post-colonial novel’
  • Sam Antony Kocheri (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Andrew Davies): ‘Benevolent Proselytes or Disguised Imperialists? Cultural Imperialism and Missionary Activities in India 1813–1900’
  • Sourour Salhi  (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Stephen Forcer): ‘Towards a global appraisal of the African past: A Postcolonial Comparative Study of Franco-Algerian and Anglo-Nigerian Literatures from Subalternity to ‘Hybrid Affirmation’’ 
  • Dooshima Dugguh (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Stephen Forcer): ‘Post-Independence Disillusionment With African Politics: Post-Colonial Francophone Literary Voices’
  • Amina Zarzi (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Anissa Daoudi): ‘The Representation of the Algerian Sahara desert in the French Colonial Imagination and its Resonance in the Expressions of Identity of Postcolonial Algerian Literature’
  • Ella El Houdiri (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Anissa Daoudi): ‘Cross-Cultural Trajectories: Arabic, English, French and Italian-speaking Literary Representations of Colonial Libya’
  • Degasian Rutherford (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Shirley Ye): ‘Quasi-Ornamentalism in the Urban Landscape of Colonial Hong Kong: Appropriation, Imperial construction and Resistance, 1840 – Present’
  • Mouna Lekkal (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Craig Blunt): ‘Representation of the Algerian War of Independence in the British Media: the BBC, the FLN and decolonisation’
  • Geoffrey Reis (Dan Vyleta (lead supervisor) and Berny Sèbe and Timothy Youngs): ‘Desert voices: literary representations of the Sahara since the colonial period and beyond’
  • Ann Kiatkowski (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Stephen Forcer), ‘Les Filles du Roi: Gender and Migration in French North America’
  • Sarra Ghersallah (Berny Sèbe (lead supervisor) and Stephen Forcer), ‘Literary, cinematic and cultural representations of the Algerian war of independence: A Franco-Algerian Perspective’
  • Liu Jun (as lead supervisor for this visiting PhD student from China): ‘the postcolonial thinking of Ajjaz Ahmed’


Major publications

  • Anissa Daoudi, e-Arabic and gender discourses in the MENA region: Tunisia as a case Study (in preparation)
  • Rebecca Gould’s Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016). Awarded the University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies and the best book award by the Association for Women in Slavic Studies)
  • Louise Hardwick, Joseph Zobel: Négritude and the Novel (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2018)
  • Berny Sèbe, Echoes of Empire: Memory, Identity and the Legacy of Imperialism, co-edited with Kalypso Nicolaïdis and Gabi Maas (London and New York: IB Tauris, 2015).
  • Berny Sèbe, Decolonising Imperial Heroes, special issue co-edited with Max Jones, Bertrand Taithe and Peter Yeandle. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 42:5 (December 2014).
  • Berny Sèbe, Empires of Emptiness: Fortresses of the Sahara and the Steppe (with Alexander Morrison, forthcoming, 2020).


Distinguished visiting speakers

We have benefited from the insights of distinguished speakers who have shared their insightful perspectives on trans-Mediterranean connections (Prof. Sasha Pack, SUNY), identity-formation in the Middle East (Prof. Wm. Roger Louis, University of Texas at Austin), transnationalizing Modern Languages (Prof. Charles Burdett, University of Bristol), interdisciplinarity in/between Modern Languages and Translation Studies (Prof. Peter Davies, University of Edinburgh) as well as The Stream has also organised an internal one-day workshop entitled ‘Forging Links: PGR Perspectives’, with fourteen post-graduate students contributing papers based on their own research projects. It has also hosted the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies’s study day on ‘negotiating borders in the Francophone world’, with a keynote address from Prof. Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool).

“Forging Links” researchers have presented their work at conferences around the world, and in particular in the USA, China, France, Spain, Germany, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, among other countries. They have also developed strong links with colleagues in a range of leading institutions in both Western and non-Western contexts.

Find out more



Violence against women: narratives, translations and languages - Anissa Daoudi

Berny Sèbe talks about Empires