Title:

Teaching Assistant Professor

Education:

B.A., French and Spanish; B.A., Psychology, the University of Kansas; M.A., Translation, the Institute for Applied Linguistics, Kent State University; Ph.D., Comparative Literature, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Teaching and Research Interests:

Comparative 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century literature in English, Spanish, and French; African literature, African Diaspora literature, and African American literature; the literatures of the Americas (North, Central, Caribbean, South); Kongo language and culture in Africa and the African Diaspora; intersectionality and critical studies of identity; peace [spirituality, religion, human rights], medicine [healing], and literature; biblical studies; translation theory and practice (translation and interpretation); narrative theory and creative writing

Current Research:

As a contribution to work of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), Dr. Fhunsu’s current research involves three major projects:

A scholarly translation, from English into French, of the book Patrice Lumumba, by Professor Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja. Democratically-elected as the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at independence in 1960, a fervent advocate for self-determination, economic and social justice, and pan-Africanism, Lumumba was assassinated in January 1961, caught in the vortex of a network of forces that included the “Cold War” and the concerted effort against the movement for national liberation that was sweeping Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. The book is being considered for publication in 2017 by the Institut Congolais de Recherche en Développement et Études Stratégiques (ICREDES) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A book project titled “The Kongo Rule: The Palo Monte Mayombe Wisdom Society.”
This project is a critical analysis and annotated translation, from Spanish [and Kikongo] into English, of the book Reglas de Congo: Palo Monte Mayombe, by the Cuban anthropologist, artist, and writer Lydia Cabrera (1899-1991). Cabrera’s text is a hybrid ethnographic book of religion, slave narratives (oral history), and folklore (songs, poetry) that she devoted to a group of Afro-Cubans known as “los Congos de Cuba,” descendants of the Africans who were brought to the Caribbean island of Cuba during the trans-Atlantic Ocean African slave trade from the former Kongo Kingdom, which occupied the present-day southwestern part of Congo-Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville, Cabinda, and northern Angola. The Kongo Kingdom had formal contact with Christianity through the Kingdom of Portugal as early as the 1490s. These Africans brought with them to Cuba their religious beliefs and practices; their healing, harming, and fate-structuring and restructuring arts (kinganga); their language (Kikongo); and their storytelling practices (myths, fables, narratives, songs, poetry) which, in the process of coping with their new condition and environment in the Americas, became the knot of material intimacies of “people from all four quarters of the globe” who labored in this new space to produce commodities for European consumption. In Cuba, they blended their African traditions with the traditions of the native peoples of the island, of the Asians, and the Spanish and Christian Catholic tradition of the slave masters to produce a distinct, creole inspiration, language, and storytelling mode. Cabrera was inspired to do this work while studying art at the École du Louvre in Paris in the 1930s, after meeting the Négritude poets (Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Léon-Gontran Damas), whose works she translated from French into Spanish.

The project shows that Reglas de Congo creates what the Congolese philosopher Valentin Yves Mudimbe calls “espace metissé,” a new, creole, hybrid, “translated” space that challenges the colonial assumptions of African and “black” personhood and articulates a religious-artistic, ontological, and epistemological dimension of personhood that, inserting itself on its own terms in this new cosmology, has come to be called “Kongo-inspired” and has led to a reconfiguration of the national project—what it means to be human and Cuban.

A book project titled “Creative Spirituality.” Recognizing the potential of the higher reaches of creativity and its power to reassess the past, reimagine and transform the present, and envision a functional future, this project explores the creative intersections of peace [spirituality, religion, human rights], medicine [healing], and literature [storytelling] in Africa and the African Diaspora.



dfhunsu21@unc.edu