Sowing Somankidi Coura: A Generative Archive

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Sowing Somankidi Coura: A Generative Archive

Sowing Somankidi Coura, a Generative Archive is a long-term research endeavor by Raphaël Grisey in collaboration with Bouba Touré around the permacultures and archives of Somankidi Coura, a self-organized agricultural cooperative along the Senegal river founded by a group of former African migrant workers and activists in France in 1977 after the Sahel drought of 1973. Sowing Somankidi Coura unfolds and generates cine-geographies that reveal the boundaries between the liberation struggles of migrant workers in France, the Pan-African history of the cooperative and potentialities of permaculture.

Through a practice of filmmaking, archiving, publication, workshop and theatre, Sowing Somankidi Coura, engages in the articulation of liberation narratives, collective care and peasant alliances towards a denaturalisation and decolonization of development politics.

The research navigates the liaisons across partial perspectives; situated knowledges and ecosystems; hetero-temporalities; affinities between soils, plants, animals and farming technologies; archives and reservoirs. Deploying diverse modes of image circulation, the work aimed at resisting forces of erosion, determination, national migration management politics, and the patenting of colonial agro-industries.

Research Locations

  • Somankidi Coura, MALI
  • Paris, FR
  • Kayes, MALI
  • Berlin, DE
  • Dakar, SN
  • Pantin, FR
  • Trondheim, NO

Collaborators' Works in Relation

Bouba Touré

Bouba Touré, 58 rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris A film by Bouba Touré, 2008

The video Bouba Touré, 58 rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris, France by Bouba Touré was shot in Bouba Touré’s former flat in Paris in 2008, a two-room apartment with many photographs, posters, and keepsakes on the walls. The video, shot in two takes, is led by the images on the wall. Touré links many political struggles of the last 50 years with his life, showing and speaking about them. Touré’s narration find his own rythm and a condition of speech by repeating certain lines. Bouba Touré started complementing his photographic diary that he initiated in the 1970’s to document African migrants’ lives and struggles and the cooperative of Somankidi Coura, with video diaries. Bouba Touré, 58 rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris, France, is one of the first tapes that he recorded while Raphaël Grisey was filming Cooperative. The video was given to Raphaël Grisey for its diffusion. The editing of Cooperative was made in relation to Bouba Touré, 58 rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris, France and shown together.

Archival Film

Nationalité : Immigré (1976, 69min)

Directed by: Sidney Sokhona

Nationalité : Immigré by Sidney Sokhona (1976, 69min)

With Nationalité : Immigré, Sidney Sokhona introduces a new tone in the cinema of the African diaspora: powerfully confident, explicitly political and radically critical of all forms of discrimination against immigrants—in particular the paternalism of the French left.

« One could hardly be blamed for interpreting NATIONALITÉ: IMMIGRÉ as an endless litany of dehumanizing bureaucratic obstacle courses – as Serge Daney pointed out in his review “On Paper”, the film juts uncomfortably against the militant Left’s emphasis on using rupture theory to delegitimize the legal process, a high-minded option unavailable to immigrants like those depicted here. Sokhona took to filming after the Aubervilliers scandal of January 1970 – when five African migrants died in an overcrowded shelter on the periphery of Paris due to asphyxiation – prompting then-Prime Minister Jacques Chaban-Delmas to declare an end of these settlements, sometimes nicknamed bidonvilles or caves, by 1973. The filmmaker wasn’t so optimistic – but then, what NATIONALITÉ: IMMIGRÉ does offer is a rare glimpse at community organizing coming into praxis on both sides of the camera, with many of Sokhona’s neighbors playing themselves. (Sokhona financed the film in piecemeal fashion once scene at a time while working as a telephone operator.) While the thrust of NATIONALITÉ: IMMIGRÉ is unabashedly polemical, the loose narrative structure allows Sokhona to pursue fascinating side-stories and political tangents, at times dipping from what appears to be pure verite into a purely Brechtian exercise wherein immigrants are handed jobs in the form of huge placards, which they must carry around their necks, denoting their net worth to society in material terms. » Steve Macfarlane

Archival Film

Safrana, or Freedom of Speech (Safrana ou le droit à la parole) (1978, 99min)

Directed by: Sidney Sokhona

Four African immigrant workers—one of them played by Bouba Touré—decide to leave Paris to train with farmers in the French countryside and then attempt a professional reinsertion in their country of origin. In the bus that takes them to the farms, they evoke their Parisian experiences: the miseries and derision that are the daily lot of the immigrant. With nothing to lose by leaving Paris, they hope that what they learn will prove useful when they return to their homeland.


Figuring Fallow Time (Part 1)

Agro-Pastoral Ecosystems and Theatre of the Oppressed Practices in the Face of Climate Breakdown

Workshop Info

  • With Diol Mouhamadou, Bouba Touré, Raphaël Grisey, Sissel A. Berg, Bjørg Nyjordet, Magnar Gilberg, Jostein Trøite (Oikos), M. Trøite, Aina Bye, Anne-Gro Erikstad amongst others.


    Levanger, NO

    October 11-13, 2018

Figuring Fallow Time (Part 2)

Agro-Pastoral Ecosystems and Theatre of the Oppressed Practices in the Face of Climate Breakdown

Workshop Info

  • Participants: Raphaël Grisey, Bouba Touré, Unni M. Fjellheim, Diol Mouhamadou, Anne-Gro Erikstad, Parisa Akbarpour, Salahedin Naderi, Shela Sheikh, Bjørg Nyjordet, Magnar Gilberg, Mamoun Jabari, Gunel Movlud, Mahla Nouruzi, Ida Warholm Bjørken, Aleksander Furunes, Leika Furunes, Amelia Fonfara, Marius Aasprong, Kathrine Butcher, amongst others.

    Levanger, NO

    5 April–7 April 2019

Research Presentations