Johanna Montlouis-Gabriel

When I was growing up, my family and I spent a great amount of time between Saint-Etienne, my hometown and Le François, in Martinique, where most of my family today still lives. I therefore always felt like home was both France and Martinique. This dual identity is still grounded in me today as I live in the United States where I am able to relate to a mutltitude of people from very diverse life stories.

When it was time to go to college after my baccalauréat littéraire, I chose to major in English because of my love of languages and in the hopes of travelling more and relate to even more people. I pursued a French Licence and Master in American Civilization with a focus on African American studies. After gaining the critical tools I needed, I decided to explore the Francophone African diaspora and its similarities and differences with the African diaspora from the United States. While my research focus has changed over time, what remains consistent are the skill sets and motivation that compel me to do what I do: (1) Problem-solving, (2) Analysis, and (3) Advocacy for underrepresented voices.

I have been fortunate to teach French at various institutions such as Académie Layette, French immersion charter school (Kansas City, MO), North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC) during my masters, and currently at the University of Georgia (Athens, GA). Teaching French has not only solidified my teaching skills, but has been a great self reflecting exercise. I have the opportunity to share not only my native language, but cultures, civilizations and histories associated with this language. Teaching is at the heart of my research at every level from beginner to advanced classes. I want to make sure to present in class and give the students the opportunities to be exposed to more narratives to diversify what they conceive of “French Culture”.

Between Academic Pursuits…

In addition to academic and professional pursuits, the following hobbies help keep me balanced:

  • Sewing: I like to be creative and when I have some spare time, I love to sew gifts, outfits and home accessories.
  • (French) Baking: I also take my creativity in the kitchen. There is nothing better than to take a break from reading than pouring all of your creativity in a pastry!
  • Physical Fitness: And to burn off my baked goods, I am a Zumba ® instructor since 2012! This most likely comes from my early upbringing in dance. I have been dancing since I am 4 years old. I trained in ballet and modern jazz. On the weekends, I also took part in rehearsals for our Antillean Drum and Dance group. We performed around the Rhône-Alpes Region until I was 18 years old. After that, I wanted to expand my dance repertoire and started to take salsa classes, which eventually led me to training in Zumba ® .