Lit & Found: The Relaunced ‘Souffles, A Pan-African Journal & Platform’

Last month, a new and re-imagined Souffles launched an online publication and platform with a credo of “Decolonizing Decoloniality.”

The original, pioneering Souffles published its first issue in March 1966, in Rabat, Morocco, founded by towering Moroccan poet Abdellatif Laâbi in collaboration with poets Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine and  Mostafa Nissaboury, and later joined by artists Mohamed Melehi, Mohammed Chabaâ, and Farid Belkahia, among others.

The magazine, which ran from 1966-1972, was — as founders of the new Souffles write — “a flagship journal of the pan-African and Third World Left.” The new founders hope to use their site “as a platform for academic exchange across Africa.”

The first issue, available online, opens with an editorial jointly written by founders Hisham Aïdi, Aomar Boum, Brahim El Guabli, & Zakia Salime. In it, they write:

By dedicating this first issue to writings by Moroccan scholars, we have made a conscious decolonial act. Scholars and scholarship from the Global South need to have their own venues in widely-read languages to circumvent gatekeeping practices and open the road wide for a new generation of scholars and readerships, and creative writers and thinkers, who cannot transcend the glass ceilings and effective boundaries imposed on them by the prevalent publication conventions in influential languages.

In this issue, there is a look back at Souffles by Hisham Aïdi, a piece on “Amaⵣ(z)iⵖ(gh) Proⵜesⵜ Music of ⵜhe Rif Region” by Mohamed Oubenal, work on “Motherhood and Transitional Justice in Morocco,” by Najwa Belkziz, “Racialization in Exile: Allal al-Fassi’s Racial Positionalities in Gabon,” by Brahim El Guabli, and “Decolonizing Gnawa Music,” by Hisham Aïdi, among others.

The online journal and platform — which currently publishes in both English and French — promises not scholarship, but also conversations, including a soon-to-be-launched podcast and a space for mentorship and exchange. The next issue, #2, will be on “Morocco and Palestine.”

Co-founder of the original Souffles, Abdellatif Laâbi, writes on the site for the relaunched Souffles:

That a new generation feels the need to reactivate the spirit of Souffles fills me with joy. The fact that the editorial team and the collaborators hail from diverse horizons and that the Maghrebis among them work and take action in their country of origin or in the diaspora will contribute, without any doubt, to the expansion of the journal’s vision and its field of investigation. The universal, which had always been the indefectible horizon of the predecessors, will necessarily become even more reinforced by the successors.To these women and men, I say courage! And good luck to Souffles Monde!