Brian Valente-QuinnAssistant Professor of French
Cultures of Activism (Dakar, Senegal)
Did you study abroad as a student? What was your international experience like?
In college I spent a semester and a summer in Aix-en-Provence, France, and right after my undergraduate degree I went to Paris to obtain my MA. I fell in love with French culture and the language and wound up specializing in francophone studies so I could continue to travel and explore. I finally got to Senegal during my graduate studies thanks to a Fulbright and have returned many times since!
What is your favorite Senegalese food?
I love spicy fish dishes, which makes Senegal just about the perfect place for me in terms of food. I really crave a good spicy ceebu jen (rice and fish) when I haven't been to Senegal in a while. And it's the first thing I eat when I go back!
Why is Senegal such a good place to study this topic?
Senegal has long been a major international hub for the arts, especially within Africa. It's also where a number of artistic movements have sought to redefine what arts activism means. Artists here don't just want to make good art. They want their work to have a real impact on communities, politics, and the world at large.
What aspect of this program do you look forward to the most?
I can't wait to bring students to Dakar for the first time. It's a profound culture shock and learning experience all at once. Our collaborators at the theater company Kaddu Yaraax are also very eager to collaborate with CU students to create an active, hands-on approach to this learning experience within their community.
Senegal is an amazing place to learn about the contemporary stakes of today's world, where issues of religious liberty and the State, representative democracy, culture and the arts, climate change and environmental justice, all play a part in people's daily lives.