Press Releases

Scholar at Risk from the Congo Joins Purchase Faculty

Date Released: 8/29/2007

Dr. Felix Ulombe Kaputu of the Congo, a member of the Scholars at Risk program, will be in residence at Purchase College this year.

Scholars at Risk is an international network of universities and colleges that provides sanctuary to professors, lecturers, researchers and other intellectuals who suffer threats in their home country. Through temporary academic positions, SAR members help scholars to escape dangerous conditions that restrict academic freedom and repress research, teaching and learning, and help them to continue their important work.

In return, the scholars contribute to their host campuses through teaching, research, lectures and other activities. 

Dr. Kaputu is an associate professor of comparative literature, modern and post-modern literature, mythology, religious literature, and gender issues.

He received his MA in Ugaritic and Middle East Mythology from the University of Lubumbashi and was awarded his PhD there in 2000 for his studies on comparative literature and biblical texts. In postdoctoral training, he attended the Universities of Mons and Brussels and acquired experience in university pedagogy, mass teaching, modern teaching methods, and ISO evaluation techniques. The use of modern technologies as pedagogical tools completed his training. Following his training at Nanzan University in Japan, apart from teaching literature, his research has more and more concentrated on gender issues and the impact of religion, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Kaputu will live on campus and this fall will teach “African Literature” and “Introduction to Global Black Studies.” In the spring he will teach “Africa Today” and “Psychoanalysis and Literature.”

He will also participate in the yearlong Africa and the African Diaspora program at Purchase, giving several lectures and introducing the film Blood Diamond during the program’s African Film Festival.

During his residency at the DuBois Institute at Harvard last year, Dr. Kaputu  wrote Twenty First Century Sub-Saharan African Women in a World of HIV-AIDS, The Deadly Pandemic, a book that examines the Sub-Saharan past including African traditions and Christian creeds to discern the place and the role played by women. The work traces women’s victimization well before colonization, but also stresses women’s contemporary victimization in light of the rise of globalization and HIV-AIDS. The conclusion considers new paths for building gender perspectives in Central Africa and gives a clear basis for human rights considerations specifically for African women.

Another document he produced is an aid for students of African-American literature.  It depicts male and female imagery in novels by African-American writers in the past and in the 21st century.  The aim is to help students understand how writers contribute to social perceptions.

Professor Kaputu has received numerous grants and awards from such organizations as the Rotary Club of Lubumbashi in 1982, the Belgian CIUF-CUB in 2001, 2005 and 2006, the Ford Foundation in 2006, the International Association of Oral History in 2002, the Fulbright in 2003, the Japanese Foundation in 2005, and the International Association for the Study of Religion in 2005.

He has been a fellow at the University of California at Santa Barbara where he studied religion and pluralism, and at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan where he studied gender issues, religion and the experiences of Japanese women.  He was also in residence at the University of Brussels in Belgium.