Forum examines socio-economic contributions of Caribbean women

An event hosted by York University’s Centre for Feminist Research will explore the topic of “Black Women Resisting Social & Business Exclusion in France, Canada and Brazil” on Feb. 1 at 2:30pm, 519 Kaneff Tower, Keele Campus.

The 2018 Business and Society Forum will feature presenters to discuss the extraordinary socio-economic contributions of Lusophone and Francophone Black women. The topic is relevant to the U.N. Decade of the Year of Persons of African Descent 2015-2024. The event features presentations by York University Professors Gertrude Mianda and Simone Bohn, and University of Pittsburgh Professor Felix Germain. It will be moderated by Ryerson University Professor Melanie Knight.

The event is co-sponsored by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for the project “African Origins in the social economy: A study on the banker ladies and economic collectives in Canada,” and the following programs: Business & Society Program, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS); Department of French Studies (LA&PS); Department of Humanities (LA&PS); Department of Political Science (LA&PS); Department of Social Science (LA&PS); the Faculty of Education; Jean Augustine Education & Community Chair (Education); the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (LA&PS); Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (Glendon); and the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation at York University.

For more information on the forum, visit or email Julia Pyryeskina, CFR coordinator, at No preregistration is required and this event is open to the public.

About the presenters:

Gertude Mianda – “Francophone African Immigrant Women in Toronto and Ottawa: The difficult quest for economic integration”

Similar to the French experience, Black French-speaking Canadian women are left to their own devices to create their own social economies. In Canada the Anglophone culture dominates, and the Black Francophone community is referred to a “minority within a minority” in which they experience the double-whammy of being French-speaking and Black. Mianda shares more about the life experiences of Black women in Ontario who are marginalized along racial, gendered and linguistic lines.

Mianda is an associate professor in the Gender and Women’s Studies program at Glendon College, York University. She is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her research focuses on gender and post-colonialism, particularly on Congolese women, gender development, globalization and immigrationHer research on immigration focuses primarily on francophone Africans in the minority francophone community in Canada (Toronto and Ottawa), examining their economic as well as social integration.

Felix Germain – “Decolonizing the Republic: African and Caribbean Migrants in Postwar Paris (1946-1974)”

Many Black women in France and Canada have come as immigrants with the hopes of seeking a better way of life for their families. Germain examines the isolation and economic hardship Caribbean women face in France when they cannot find decent work nor easily integrate into French society.

Germain is an assistant professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and he specializes in transnational and cultural history, with an emphasis on France, the Caribbean, West Africa, and the United States. He grew up in New York City and is from Martinique. Germain’s first book, Decolonizing the Republic: African and Caribbean Migrants in Postwar Paris (1946-1974), chronicles the evolution of Paris from a space fertile for Black literary and artistic production to a city where Caribbean and African labor migrants lived in quasi “exile,” often protesting for better working and living conditions.

Simone Bohn – “The Quilombolas’ Refuge in Brazil: Social Economy, Communal Space and Shared Identity”

Brazil, the country to receive the largest number of slaves in the Atlantic slave trade era, has an important Black population in the Americas – and the largest African diaspora in the world. Bohn introduces the powerful use of cooperatives called Quilombos, in which Afro-Brazilians seek to meet their economic and social needs, and to push against systemic racial bias in the country.

Bohn is an associate professor of Political Science at York University, where she specializes in Comparative Politics with a focus on Latin America. Her studies have focused on party politics, gender and politics, and more recently, the heterogeneity of poverty in Brazil. Originally from Brazil, Bohn’s research focuses on political parties in South America, gender and politics in Brazil, and the study of political tolerance and attitudes towards corruption in Latin America.

Melanie Knight – Discussant

Knight is an associate professor at the Department of Sociology at Ryerson University. Knight’s research interests are primarily focused on race, gender and the labour market economy with a specific focus on entrepreneurship. For the past 15 years, Knight has researched the business life-cycle progression of racialized women entrepreneurs, the barriers that these women face; their unique assets (social, financial, human, personal and physical); and the ways in which they develop these assets in an effort to create successful businesses and sustainable livelihoods.