FRANCOPOCO (Francophone Colonial and Postcolonial) Network 

The University of Birmingham FRANCOPOCO Network was launched in March 2010 to promote learning and teaching, research and knowledge transfer in Francophone Colonial and Postcolonial Studies.

Four photos of North Africa, Canada, Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa

Francophone Postcolonial Studies is a growth field in the UK and internationally, encouraging researchers and students to explore new boundaries within the discipline of French Studies. The teaching and research activities carried out within the framework of the FRANCOPOCO Network situate cultural works (literature, film and other forms of cultural production) in their global context, exploring historical, political and economic contexts and considering evolving relationships between France, Europe and the wider world.

The FRANCOPOCO network harnesses the research and teaching expertise of University of Birmingham academics in French Studies whose work spans the major French-speaking areas around the world, including analysis of the early modern and modern eras.

Staff and areas of expertise 

  • Dr Craig Blunt Algeria and the legacy of the Algerian War 
  • Dr Béatrice Damamme-Gilbert Literary representations of colonial and postcolonial cultures (African, Mauritian, Mexican and Amerindian, and Oceanian) in J.M.G. Le Clézio's work.
  • Dr Sarah Fishwick Francophone Women Writers
  • Dr Louise Hardwick Francophone Caribbean – Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti, and the Haitian diaspora in contemporary Canada. 
  • Dr Kate Ince Filmic representations of colonial and postcolonial cultures 
  • Dr Berny Sèbe Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahara (colonial, decolonisation and postcolonial) 
  • Dr Andrew Watts Race otherness and colonialism in the 19th Century

International network members

  • Dr. Suzy Cater (Affiliated Researcher)
    Suzy is a specialist in modern French and Francophone literature, with particular expertise in French Caribbean culture. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of French at New York University in 2016, where she researched the avant-garde poetry, theatre, and novels of the Martinican philosopher Édouard Glissant. Her work has appeared in the Romanic ReviewNouvelles Études FrancophonesFrench Forum, and Dix-huitième Siècle, and she is currently guest-editing a special dossier of Women in French Studies on representations of women in Martinican literature.

  • Dr Bonnie Thomas, Associate Professor in European Languages and Studies at the University of Western Australia
    She has published widely in the field of French and Francophone Studies, and has particular expertise in Francophone Studies, Gender Studies, French feminism and History and Memory Studies. Her monograph Breadfruit or Chestnut? Gender Construction in the French Caribbean Novel was published in 2006, and she is currently completing a monograph entitled Connecting Histories: Francophone Caribbean Writers Interrogating Their Past.
  • Dr Michael Wiedorn (Georgia Institute of Technology)
    Michael is an expert in Francophone Caribbean literature. His forthcoming book, Think Like an Archipelago: Paradox in the Work of Edouard Glissant, is the first monograph in English since 1999 on the Martinican novelist, philosopher, essayist, and cultural critic Edouard Glissant and will appear next year with the State University of New York Press. He is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham in autumn 2016.

Postdoctoral and postgraduate community

  • Dr Claire Peters, Teaching Fellow (until March 2016) and AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellow (until June 2016)

    After an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Birmingham, I was appointed as a Teaching Fellow at Birmingham, and in 2016 I was awarded funding through an AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellowship to work with non-academic partners on a series of introduced Francophone film screenings in Birmingham, with additional events in Birmingham and London. I specialise in contemporary French film and fiction, with particular interests in representations of Paris, memories of the Holocaust and the Algerian war, postcolonial theory and various aspects of twentieth-century French thought.

  • Sara Mechkarini, Algerian Government Funded PhD student
    Supervisor: Dr Berny Sebe, Birmingham (50%)
    Co-Supervisor: Dr Stephen Forcer, Birmingham (50%)
    I am a graduate of M’Hamed Bouguerra University of Boumerdes in Algeria, and joined Birmingham in September 2016. My doctoral studies into representations of alienation in Francophone and Anglophone African literature are funded by a full Algerian Government PhD Scholarship. I am an active member of the University of Birmingham graduate community and the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies.

  • Bethany Mason, CAL funded PhD student
    Supervisor: Dr Louise Hardwick
    I have been studying at the University of Birmingham since 2010 and I completed both my undergraduate degree in French Studies and MA in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies here. My doctoral studies are fully funded by a College of Arts and Law Scholarship. I am studying the environment and identity in Francophone Caribbean literature and culture using an ecocritical postcolonial approach, focusing on the work of Patrick Chamoiseau and Maryse Condé.

  • Antonia Wimbush, AHRC-funded PhD student
    Supervisor: Dr Louise Hardwick, Birmingham (70%)
    Co-Supervisor: Dr Nicki Hitchcott, Nottingham (30%)
    I am a graduate of the University of Exeter, and joined Birmingham and Nottingham in September 2014. My doctoral studies are funded by a full AHRC PhD Scholarship through the Midlands 3 Cities Consortium. I study the representations of exile in Francophone women’s autobiographical writing, and am interested in the comparative experiences of women writers and how their postcolonial condition has influenced their work.

Student Profiles: MA in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies Students

  • Alex Salonen (MA in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Full Time)
  • Bethany Mason (MA in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Part Time)
  • Sinead Cussen (Part Time), MA in Translation Studies
    I decided to take some postcolonial modules as I really enjoyed my undergraduate modules on Francophone Africa, and am interested in the relation between language and identity, especially in a political or postcolonial setting.

FRANCOPOCO activities

  • May 2017 Dr Louise Hardwick and Dr Claire Peters are working with local schools to produce a suite of teaching materials for a project called ‘Teaching Joseph Zobel and La Francophonie’, funded through a small CAL Impact Grant.
  • March 2017 Dr Jean Antoine-Dunne, Caribbean Cinema expert from the University of the West Indies is a Visiting Fellow funded by the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London Visiting Fellows scheme. You can see her Guest Lecture ‘Tracking Signposts to a Caribbean Film Aesthetic’ here.
  • January 2017 Michael Wiedorn joins FRANCOPOCO Network as International Member
  • November 2016 Dr Louise Hardwick presented a keynote lecture at the Annual Conference of the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies.
  • November 2016 FRANCOPOCO in partnership with Postcolonial Birmingham research network organises three research seminars: Paradox in the work of Edouard Glissant, Beirut, 1982, and Airpower in the French Empire: the Armée de l'Air in the levant (1918-1940).
  • October 2016 Antonia Wimbush (AHRC M3C candidate) presents Work in Progress at University of Nottingham.
  • October 2016 Dr Louise Hardwick presents Zobel research at Winthrop-King Institute, Florida State University 'Performance of Pan-Africanism' Conference.
  • October 2016 Welcome to our new PhD students working in the field of Francophone and Postcolonial Studies!
  • September 2016 Michael Wiedorn is Visiting Scholar.
  • June 2016 Bonnie Thomas joins FRANCOPOCO Network as International Member.
  • April 2016 Dr Andrew Watt's critical edition of Balzac's early play Le Nègre (co-edited with Michelle Cheyne of UMass-Dartmouth) has been published online by Liverpool Online Series.
  • Dr Berny Sèbe’s exhibition 'Empires of Emptiness' opens - free to all - at the University of Birmingham Aston Webb Rotunda and outside (on lawn outside the main library) at main campus (March 2016).
  • Antonia Wimbush is busy organising the next Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies Postgraduate Workshop to be held at the University of Birmingham in summer 2016
  • Dr Louise Hardwick invited to present the FRANCOPOCO Network at the launch event of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies, Institute of Advanced Studies, Senate House, University of London. The event was also covered in the Times Higher Education publication (January 2016).
  • Dr Claire Peters awarded AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellowship to organise Francophone film screenings in Birmingham (January 2016).
  • Dr Louise Hardwick undertakes Visiting Fellowship at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, working alongside Professor Valérie Loichot, with additional activities at Georgia Institute of Technology (October 2015).
  • Dr Louise Hardwick publishes article in The Guardian Higher Education Network: 'My Indiana Jones Moment' on surprising discoveries arising through her Early Career fellowship activities (August 2015).
  • Dr Louise Hardwick interviewed on Martinican evening news programme ‘3 Questions à…’ - interview on Joseph Zobel centenary impact activities (May 2015).
  • PhD student Antonia Wimbush undertakes archival research in Martinique as part of her AHRC Midlands 3 Cities PhD project, jointly supervised between the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham (April 2015).
  • Dr Louise Hardwick invited speaker at the Joseph Zobel centenary events in Rivière-Salée, Martinique (April 2015).
  • Dr Claire Peters and Dr Béatrice Damamme-Gilbert organise special talk on Nobel Prize Winning author Patrick Modiano (March 2015).
  • Guest edited journal issue of the International Journal of Francophone Studies on 'Race, Violence and Biopolitics', edited by Louise Hardwick and Alessandro Corio (2014)
  • Dr Berny Sebe on BBC: Great Continental Railways, presented by Michael Portillo, includes a presentation of Marseilles, in which Berny introduces the imperial past of the city.  BBC2 Wednesday, 10 December, 2014.
  • AHRC-funded Early Career Fellowship: Dr Louise Hardwick, "Joseph Zobel: Négritude's Novelist? The Transnational Politics of a French Caribbean Author working between the Caribbean, Africa and Europe" (2014-2016, £168,000). Visit the project blog here:
  • Seminar: Alessandro Corio, Caribbean Biopolitics of Literature: the reversal of the abyss in NourbeSe Philip and Édouard Glissant, University of Birmingham, 28 January 2014.
  • Film screening: Discover Dany Laferrière: A Restless Child of Haiti
    Monday 18 March 2013 - part of the University’s Arts and Science Festival
  • Francophone Carribean Literature and Translation- Guest Lectures by Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé and her translator Richard Philcox in 2010. You can now see photos from Maryse and Richard's visit to campus and the special displays of her work at the University of Birmingham Library and at Birmingham Central Library which Dr Hardwick arranged in honour of her visit
  • Haiti: beyond the Earthquake (Cultural strand of the Birmingham Action for Haiti campaign)
  • AHRC funded project: Outposts of Conquest: the History and Legacy of the Fortresses of the Steppe and the Sahara in Comparative perspective (1840s to today)
  • EC/FP7 European Funded project: Caribbean Biopolitics
    You can also read the project's blog at
  • Details of related research seminars in French and Francophone Studies by invited academic speakers including Dr Denis Provencher and Dr Maeve McCusker are available here

The FRANCOPOCO Network promotes

  • A dynamic programme of research activity and interdisciplinary collaboration
  • The enrichment of Undergraduate teaching and learning
  • The enrichment of Postgraduate supervision and training opportunities
  • International perspectives of France and the French language
  • The exploration of contemporary France’s international relations with Africa, the Caribbean, Canada and Asia
  • New interdisciplinary research analysing urgent themes which include the global economy, environmental issues, racial politics and gender politics, drawing attention to Francophone Colonial and Postcolonial paradigms of international importance
  • Knowledge Transfer, bringing Francophone Colonial and Postcolonial Studies to a wider public through a series of film screenings and visits from major authors and academics, all of which are open to the public

postcolonial logoPotential applicants

We welcome applications from potential graduate students at Masters or PhD level interested in working on research projects in any of the fields in which we specialise.

The FRANCOPOCO Network consolidates the teaching and research expertise in Francophone Colonial and Postcolonial fields in French Studies. FRANCOPOCO is part of the wider interdisciplinary Postcolonial Birmingham Research Network at the University of Birmingham.