Mireille Djenno is the Global Special Collections Librarian at Princeton University, where she curates non-Western collections of rare books, manuscripts, and maps, spanning the period 1600–1900. Prior to this appointment, she served as the African Studies Librarian at Indiana University Bloomington for several years.
In addition to a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, she holds post-graduate certificates in History of Manuscripts from Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, and in Special Collections from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she studied under Joel Silver. She has previously curated several exhibitions, including a photographic exhibition looking at the decade following the end of apartheid, at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as a 2021 Indiana University Archives exhibition on the history of African Studies at IU.
Mireille would like to thank the late Daniel P. Kunene for introducing her to his fellow South African Nadine Gordimer’s work while she was a graduate student in Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Eileen Julien, professor emerita at IUB, for creating the space to explore Gordimer’s papers in conversation with other 20th century African literary figures represented in the Lilly Library’s collections.
Mireille is grateful to Princeton University Library for giving her the time and flexibility to work on the exhibition. She would also like to thank the staff of the Lilly Library, particularly Jenny Mack, Erika Dowell, David Orr, Hannah Kish, and Isabel Planton, for all of their support and encouragement.
Finally, this exhibition is dedicated to the late Verlon L. Stone, a tireless advocate for deepening IU’s engagement with Liberian history and culture.
IU and South Africa
Indiana University’s connections to South Africa are numerous and long-standing. They include several scholars in the humanities whose work focuses on Southern Africa, a highly regarded program of instruction in isiZulu, an indigenous Southern African language, and the O’Neill in South Africa Program.
Past projects include the 2002–2004 collaboration between the IU Office of Institutional Development and Maurer School of Law and the University of Pretoria’s faculty of law “to help meet South Africa’s goals for bringing about democratic, social, political, and economic transformation”, and the Kellogg and Ford Foundations, and Eli Lilly Corporation-supported faculty exchanges with Khanya College in Johannesburg and Cape Town, in the 1990s.
IU student engagement with South Africa has included study abroad in Cape Town, and protests against apartheid, documented in the University Archives.