About the Speaker
Dr. Didier Gondola is Professor of African History and Africana Studies at Indiana University – Purdue University, Indianapolis. He served as Chair of the IUPUI History Department in 2012-2018. He earned a Ph.D. in African History from the Université Paris 7 in 1993. His publications include numerous articles and chapters on popular cultures (music, fashion, gambling, and memory), gender and postcolonial issues in Central Africa and the African diaspora in France. His most recent book, Tropical Cowboys: Youth Gangs, Violence, and Masculinities in Colonial Kinshasa (Indiana University Press, 2016), examines the ways in which young people commandeered images from Hollywood western movies to forge new standards of manliness and masculinities in 1950s Kinshasa. His book Africanisme: La crise d’une illusion (Paris: L’Harmattan 2007) explores the connections between African studies in France and French policies in Africa. In 2002, he published The History of Congo (Greenwood Press). He is also the co-editor (with Charles Tshimanga and Peter Bloom) of Frenchness and the African Diaspora: Identity and Uprising in Contemporary France (Indiana University Press 2009).
During academic year 2008-09, he was selected as a US Department of State Fulbright scholar and carried out both research and teaching activities at the Université de Kinshasa, Congo. Recipient of the prestigious Eurias fellowship, he spent the 2011-12 academic year at the Nantes Institute for Advanced Studies in France where he developed the Tropical Cowboys manuscript. In 2015, he was selected as senior resident at the Collegium of Lyon, France, and spent the entire 2015-16 academic year there working on a 450-page biographical manuscript about André Matswa, a Congolese activist and charismatic visionary who campaigned for the extension of French citizenship to French Equatorial Africa in the 1920s and 1930s. The manuscript is based on oral interviews and over 20,000 pages of archival material collected at the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence, France, and is under contract with Les Éditions de la Sorbonne in Paris.
Since stepping down as Chair of the IUPUI Department of History in 2018, Professor Gondola has been involved in an ambitious collaborative project that focuses on the emergence of HIVs in colonial Africa. The project brings together a team of virologists, epidemiologists, demographers, historians, and anthropologists based in the US, Europe, and Africa and has resulted in the publication of an edited volume, Aids and Its Viruses: Origins of a Pandemic, with Ohio University Press. He is currently in the first stages in the development of a long-term research project on the Chinese presence in Kinshasa (Congo) and Libreville (Gabon).