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Devereux Herbeck’s research on Diop’s ‘Nous’ questions the “we” in modern French society

Poster for Diop's documentary Nous showing a man on a ladder installing French flags on a pole

Mariah Devereux Herbeck, professor of French, recently presented her research at the 10th International Women in French Conference on May 12, 2022. In her presentation, “(Re)centering the Margins: Alice Diop’s ‘Nous’,” Devereux Herbeck analyzed French filmmaker Alice Diop’s recently released documentary as a contemporary mise-en-scène and reexamination of  bell hooks’s (sic) seminal essay “Choosing the Margin as a Radical Space of Openness.”

According to Devereux Herbeck, “In ‘Nous,’ Diop renders the margins of Parisian society a ‘site of resistance’ as she questions the identity and portrayal of ‘we’ in modern society.” Devereux Herbeck’s analysis of these contiguous scenes of the film served to demonstrate to what extent Diop’s film’s editing questions the traditional framing of French national identity. Whose life and death have been honored and retold? According to Devereux Herbeck, “‘Nous’ provides an opportunity for those who have been marginalized, silenced, and absent from the French national narrative to have their stories seen and heard.”