Frieda Ekotto ’86 in Line as President of Modern Language Association

Frieda Ekotto ’86 has been elected second vice president of the Modern Language Association of America. Ekotto, who leads the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, will begin her term as president after the close of the organization’s January 2023 convention and will continue through the close of the January 2024 convention.

Founded in 1883, the MLA provides opportunities for its members to share their scholarly findings and teaching experiences with colleagues and to discuss trends in the academy. The organization has more than 24,000 members in 145 countries, with programs serving English and foreign language teachers. MLA members host an annual convention and other meetings, work with related organizations, and sustain one of the most renowned publishing programs in the humanities. For more than a century, members have worked to strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature.

Ekotto will serve as second vice president beginning this month through January 2022, when she will automatically become first vice president, serving in that office through the close of the January 2023 convention. She then takes over as president of the organization for a one-year term.

Ekotto was born in Cameroon and raised in Switzerland, and graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in comparative literature and French literature from the University of Minnesota. In 2014, she became the first African woman to lead the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan where she recently was awarded a Collegiate Professorship — one of the highest faculty honors given by the university. She is an intellectual historian and philosopher with expertise in 20th- and 21st-century Anglophone and Francophone literature and in the cinema of West Africa and its diaspora. She concentrates on contemporary issues of law, race, and LGBTQI issues.

She received the Louis T. Benezet Award from Colorado College in 2015 and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 2018. Ekotto currently is a member of CC’s Board of Trustees. She has published numerous articles and books and is the recipient of grants and awards, including a Ford Foundation seed grant for research and collaborative work with institutions of higher learning in Africa. 



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