Manthia Diawara is a writer, filmmaker, cultural theorist and art historian. He is Professor of Comparative Literature and Film and Director of Africana Studies and the Institute of African American Affairs, New York University (1992–present) and founder of the journal Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire.
Among his films are An Opera of the World (2017), commissioned by dOCUMENTA 14; Negritude: A Dialogue between Soyinka and Senghor (2016); Edouard Glissant, One World in Relation (2010); Maison Tropicale (2008) and Who’s Afraid of Ngugi? (2007). He has received awards from both dOCUMENTA 14 and the Prince Claus Fund for Culture for An Opera of the World and has also won a prize from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund for a documentary on Kathleen Cleaver (2012), among many others.
He has published a number of articles and books, including ‘Malick Sidibe: Smell the Perfume…Or When the Youth Was Free in Bamako,’ in Malick Sidibe: Mali Twist, ed. Andre Magnin and Brigitte Ollier (Fondation Cartier; Paris: Xavier Barral Edition, 2017); ‘Édouard Glissant’s Worldmentality: An Introduction to One World in Relation’ (dOCUMENTA 14, 2017); ‘The Films of Abderrahmane Sissako’, Artforum (2015); African Film: New Forms of Aesthetics and Politics (Prestel, 2011); We Won’t Budge (Basic Civitas Books, 2003) and Mali Kow: Un monde fait de tous les mondes [an exposition catalogue written with Jean Paul Colleyn, photography by Catherine De Clippel] (Indigenes Editions/Parc La Villette, 2001).
Diawara has been an editorial board member for the publications Transition, October, African American Review and Public Culture, a member of the Scientific Committee for Revue Communications, an advisor for Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and a jury member for numerous awards at film festivals, such as the Festival des films engagés d’Alger, Algeria (2013).
Diawara received a Master of Arts from American University, Washington, DC (1978) and a PhD in Comparative Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, US (1985). Born in Bamako, Mali, he currently lives and works in New York.