Diouf, Sylviane A.
Diouf, Sylviane A.
(Sylviane Anna Diouf)
PERSONAL: Born in France; daughter of Ousmane (a physicist) and Marcelle (a school principal; maiden name, Fleury) Diouf; children: Sény F. Kamara. Education: University of Paris VII, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
CAREER: Libreville University, Libreville, Gabon, assistant professor, 1976–79; Jeune Afrique (weekly magazine), Paris, France, journalist, 1979–82; Senegalese Diplomatic Service, counselor in the United States, 1982–84, Italy, 1985–89, and the United States, 1989–99; New York University, New York, NY, adjunct professor, 1999–2001; New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY, researcher and content manager for database "In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience," 2001–. Conference organizer and participant; guest on media programs, including Like It Is, American Broadcasting Companies; This Far by Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); and an episode of History Detectives, PBS. Formerly worked as a journalist and diplomat.
AWARDS, HONORS: Selection as "outstanding academic book," Choice, 1999, for Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas; Children's Africana Book Award for Older Readers, African Studies Association, 2001, for Kings and Queens of West Africa; laureate, Comité des Mamans (France), 2003, for French version of Bintou's Braids.
Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor and author of introduction) Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 2003.
(Editor, with Howard Dodson) In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience, National Geographic (Washington, DC), 2005.
Contributor to books, including Muslim Minorities in the West, edited by Yvonne Haddad and Jane Smith, Altamira Press, 2002; Trans-Atlantic Dimensions of Ethnicity in the African Diaspora, edited by Paul E. Lovejoy and David Trotman, Continuum (London, England), 2004; Muslims' Place in the American Public Square: Hopes, Fears, and Aspirations, edited by Zahid Bukhari, Sulayman Nyang, and others, Altamira Press, 2004; and Monuments of the Black Atlantic: History, Memory, and Politics, edited by Maria Diedrich and Joanne M. Braxton, Lit Verlag (Hamburg, Germany), 2004. Contributor to periodicals in Europe, Africa, and the United States, including Hommes et Migrations, West Africa, New African, African Tribune, First Call for Children, African Recovery, and Africa International.
(With Karen Gravelle) A Cajun Childhood, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1998.
Kings and Queens of East Africa, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 2000.
Kings and Queens of Southern Africa, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 2000.
Kings and Queens of Central Africa, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 2000.
Kings and Queens of West Africa, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 2000.
Bintou's Braids (fiction), illustrated by Shane W. Evans, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
Growing Up in Slavery, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2001.
The book Bintou's Braids has been translated into French and Portuguese.
SIDELIGHTS: Sylviane A. Diouf told CA: "I have been writing creatively (and always loved to do so) since I was in grade school. It is a good thing, because when I was in college in Paris, my work as a freelance journalist paid my way up to the doctorate. As a university professor, I continued to freelance, then went back to journalism full-time, before changing careers again. A new job in the diplomatic service sent me to Italy and later to New York; and throughout the years I continued to publish scholarly and general articles in several countries. This experience with various languages, writing styles, and writing levels turned out to be quite useful for what I set out to do next.
"Even though I had worked mostly on contemporary issues for quite a while, a few years ago I decided to go back to my first love: history. Within seven years I published two academic books, five books for children, one fictional book for children, and coedited one trade book. I also published several essays in scholarly books and journals. Being used to working in a foreign language and with tight deadlines came in handy.
"All my books and articles deal with African and African Diaspora history and culture. What interests me is to bring forth unknown stories, and there is an abundance of those in these fields. Whether it is about the hundreds of thousands of enslaved West African Muslims who arrived in the Americas as early as 1502 and left extraordinary marks throughout the continents, the brave lives of the millions of children who were enslaved in the United States, or the multifaceted resistance put up by Africans who resisted the slave trade, my objective is to find buried information, bring to life forgotten people, reconstruct history, and present it in a way that appeals to readers.
"As a scholar who has worked as a journalist, I try to write for a larger audience than strictly the academic community. I love the rigor of scholarly research and writing, and I also want the stories to go beyond campuses to reach as many people as possible. I believe that scholarship needs to be more widely disseminated, but it is especially true when it comes to African and African Diaspora history because of the ignorance and distortions that are still so prevalent.
"That is one of the main reasons why I wrote children's books. I wanted to bring to young readers some of the knowledge that my college students did not possess—and should have—when they took my classes. And to connect with really young children and pique their interest in other cultures, I wrote fiction. Bintou's Braids, the story of a little Senegalese girl who wants a new hairdo, has been widely translated."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Africa, fall, 2004, Christopher Fyfe, review of Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies, p. 680.
Canadian Journal of History, December, 2004, Olatunji Ojo, review of Fighting the Slave Trade, p. 637.
Journal of American Ethnic History, spring, 2000, Allan D. Austin, review of Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, p. 131.
Middle East Quarterly, December, 2000, Daniel Pipes, review of Servants of Allah, p. 69.
Publishers Weekly, October 29, 2001, review of Bintou's Braids, p. 63.
School Library Journal, January, 2002, Marian Drabkin, review of Bintou's Braids, p. 97.
Western Journal of Black Studies, spring, 2004, Zawadi Barskile, review of Fighting the Slave Trade, p. 333.
Sylviane Diouf Home Page, http://www.sylvianediouf.com (November 23, 2005).