Professor Emilie Diouf (ENG) was selected randomly for the Wellington Prize this year, according to a BrandeisNow article. Established by an anonymous donor in 1993, the Wellington prize is a gift used to “enliven the spirits and delight the sense of assistant professors.” Every year, the winner of this prize is chosen randomly at the final faculty meeting of the academic year and can use the $3,000 cash prize in any way they see fit, as long as it is not used for research purposes.
Diouf, who is originally from Senegal, used the prize money to visit Senegal with her two-year-old daughter Annette. Diouf had not returned to Senegal in three years, and her daughter had never been. The mother-daughter duo spent seven weeks in July and August visiting family and friends in Dakar, Thies, Mbour and Joal-Fadiouth.
The trip allowed Diouf and her daughter to re-root themselves culturally. “I didn’t realize I missed home so much until I got there,” said Diouf in the interview with BrandeisNow.” Diouf also noted that her daughter was able to become more fluent in Wolof and develop bonds with relatives face-to-face, as opposed to on phone or Skype calls.
Diouf also told BrandeisNow that her trip also gave her insight as to how migrants feel when they return home. During visits to the African Renaissance Monument in Dakar and the House of Slaves and its Door of No Return on Gorée Island, Diouf explored the ways Senegal preserved the cultural memory of the Atlantic slave trade and forced displacement.
Diouf came to the United States from Senegal in 2008 to pursue a master’s and PhD degree at Michigan State University. Diouf specializes in Anglophone and Francophone postcolonial African literatures and cinema with emphases on gender, feminist theory and trauma theory; she joined Brandeis as an assistant professor of English in fall 2017.