Dr. Z'étoile Imma is Michael S. Field Assistant Professor of the Liberal Arts in the English Department and the Africana Studies Program at Tulane University, where she is also affiliated with the Gender and Sexualities Studies Program and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Dr. Imma studies gender and sexuality in contemporary African literature, visual culture, performance, new media, and other activist sites of cultural production. She also has strong secondary intellectual investments in African Diasporic feminisms, Caribbean literature and film, and Haitian studies.
Through her teaching and research, Dr. Imma seeks to contribute to African gender and sexualities studies, global Black feminisms, postcolonial queer studies, and the larger project of decolonizing knowledge production. Courses she has recently taught include “Sexual Politics in South Africa,” “African Feminisms,” “Gender, Sex, and/in Postcoloniality,” “Anti-Apartheid Cultures,” “Black Women Writing Home,” “Postcolonial Theory,” and “Love Stories from Africa.” Dr. Imma is currently developing three new courses entitled “Queer Africa,” (En)Gendering the Black Atlantic,” and “Black Decolonial Thought.”
Her major work in progress, Our Queer Mandela: Simon Nkoli, the Archive, and the Uses of an African Queer Icon recovers and examines the archival legacy of South African anti-apartheid, gay and lesbian rights, and AIDS activist Simon Nkoli. Through an analytic tracing of the representations and erasures of Nkoli, Imma explores how Black queer life in South Africa is documented, articulated, utilized, and at times, stubbornly illegible within the archive. Dr. Imma is currently developing her second project, Love Economies: Queering Erotic and Intimate Geographies in the Postcolony, in which she argues that the making of Black queer erotics in emergent African literary and visual texts interrupt long-standing colonial discourses on African bodies, spaces, sexualities, and genders, as well as, challenge increasingly pervasive homonationalist ideologies. She has published articles and book chapters in Callaloo, Research in African Literatures, Journal of Lesbian Studies, Screen Bodies, Representation , and Black Womanhood: The Legacy of Sarah Baartman and Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Africa. She also has served as a special issue co-editor for The Journal of African Cultural Studies and South Africa's foremost feminist studies journal, Agenda, and was previously the technical editor for Ìrìnkèrindò: Journal of African Migration.
She earned her doctorate in English Language and Literature from the University of Virginia and her research has been awarded numerous prestigious fellowships and grants including the Mellon Mays Fellowship, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African and African American Studies Predoctoral Research Fellowship, Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, Board of Regents Award to Louisiana Artists and Scholars, and most recently, the Institute Citizens and Scholars Career Enhancement Fellowship. Before joining the faculty of Tulane University, Dr. Imma was Assistant Professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Notre Dame and Visiting Lecturer of English at the University of Witwatersrand.
Dr. Imma is also a poet who has studied with Sonia Sanchez, Cheryl Clarke, Elizabeth Nunez, and June Jordan. Her poems have been published in venues such as African Voices, ShadowBox, The Brooklyn Review, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, and Je Transporte Des Explosifs On Les Appelle Des Mots: Poesie Et Feminismes Aux Etats-Unis.