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Florence Bernault Bernault

Email: bernault@wisc.edu
Phone: (608)263-5424
Office: 4131 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 4006 Mosse Humanities

Curriculum Vitae: View PDF

Website: http://history.wisc.edu/bernault/

Office Hours: TBA

Education: PhD: University of Paris-Diderot; MA: University of Paris-Sorbonne; BA: University of Paris-Sorbonne

Bio Sketch:

I specialize in West and Equatorial African History and Contemporary Africa. I offer courses and seminars on Africa since 1870, on African Christianity, on Non-Traditional Sources for Modern African History, on Equatorial Africa since 1500, and on African Art: Collections, Tourism, Museums. I have also written extensively on colonialism and on France’s current debates about citizenship, naturalization, immigration and the colonial debt.

My work so far has discussed political crises in Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon, and custodial imprisonment in sub-Saharan Africa. I am currently completing a book monograph that investigates the history of magic in Gabon, and more broadly, the cross-emergence of black and white anxieties about materiality and spiritual agency since the late 19th century. In addition to this book, I am working on two projects. One concerns the history of the fetish in the colonial context. The second analyzes Late Nativism, archaic fathers and burdensome bodies in the movie Avatar (2009).

Selected Publications: (see my website)

  • Ruptures postcoloniales.  Les nouveaux visages de la société française [Postcolonial Ruptures.  New Trends in French Society]  (Paris: La Découverte, 2010), co-editor
  • A History of Prison and Confinement in Africa (Portsmouth, NJ: Heinemann, 2003), editor
  • Démocraties ambigües en Afrique centrale: Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, 1940-1965 [Ambiguous Democracies.  Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, 1940-1965]  (Paris: Karthala, 1996)
  • “Witchcraft and the Colonial Life of the Fetish,” in B. Meier and A. Steinforth, eds.,  Spirits in Politics: Uncertainties of Power and Healing in African Societies, (Frankfurt a.M.: Campus Publishers, 2013), 53-74.
  • “Quelque chose de pourri dans le post-empire,” [Something’s Rotten in the Post-Empire] Cahiers d’études africaines 199 (Dec. 2010), 771-798.
  • “Colonial Bones: The 2006 Burial of Savorgnan de Brazza,” African Affairs, vol. 109, 436 (July 2010),367-390.
  • “La chair et son secret: Transfiguration du fétiche et incertitude symbolique au sud-Gabon,” [The Flesh and Its Secret: Fetish and Symbolic Uncertainty in Southern Gabon]  Politique africaine, 115 (October 2009), 99-122.
  • “Colonial Syndrome: French Modern and the Deceptions of History,” in C. Tshimanga-Kashama, D. Gondola & P. Bloom, eds., Frenchness and the African Diaspora, Bloomington, 2009
  • “Fin de règne au Gabon” [End of Gabon’s Monarchy], special issue of Politique africaine, 115 (October 2009), guest editor with Joseph Tonda.


  • Fellow, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, academic year 2014
  • Fellow, Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin, Spring 2010
  • Fellow, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, August 2008
  • H. I. Romnes Faculty Award, University of Wisconsin, 2000-2005
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 2001

History Courses Taught:

Lecture Courses:

Undergraduate Seminars:

  • History 500 - Reading Seminar in History - Topics: "African Art From the Primitive to the Global: Collections, Tourism, and Museums" Syllabus 2012 (pdf)
  • History 600 - Advanced Seminar in History - Topics: "History of Africa "; "Imagining Africa (19th‐21st centuries)" Syllabus 2009 (pdf)

Graduate Courses:

  • History 703 - History and Theory
  • History 751 - Proseminar in the History of Africa
  • History 774 - Methods for Historical Research in Non-Literate Societies - Topics: "Methodologies for Modern African History" Syllabus 2012 (pdf)
  • History 861 - Seminar in the History of Africa - Topics: "African Christianity" Syllabus 2011 (pdf)
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