Sheila Petty

Film Department

Office: ED239.12
Phone: 306-585-4188

As a media theorist, Sheila Petty's work encompasses new media, cinema, television narrative and aesthetics, African and African diasporic cinema, television & web texts and post-colonialism. She has written extensively on issues of cultural representation, identity and nation in African and African diasporic screen media, and has curated film, television and digital media exhibitions for galleries across Canada. Her current research focuses on interpretive strategies for analyzing digital creative cultural practices and living cultural heritage. She is one of the first scholars in Canada to research and write in the area of African cinema/Women in African Cinema. Petty’s new ways of thinking about African cinema, film feminism, and digital media narratives demonstrate an ethical engagement with and respectful approach to researching about other cultures by allowing the theory to arise from the culture itself. Her work has been quoted as “exemplifying a rigorous immersion of non-Western intellectual practices, to build new framework for studying a ‘Western’ art form”. She has several publications promoting this approach, particularly, “African Frameworks of Analysis for African Film Studies” (2012) which led to new work in North Africa on Amazigh cinema (including a forthcoming book on Habiba Djahnine and essays on cultural sovereignty in Moroccan Amazigh cinema – pioneering works in English and in the field. Over the course of her career, she has published and presented over 180 papers and attracted over 3 million dollars in external research funding.

She was the first social scientist to be named adjunct scientist in new media at Telecommunications Research Labs Regina, a not-for-profit applied research consortium based in western Canada. In 2001 she founded the New Media Studio Laboratory, a Canada Foundation for Innovation-funded lab for research on interdisciplinary digital research spanning Fine Arts, Computer Science and Engineering – at the time, an innovative move toward interdisciplinarity. She held the Zora Neale Hurston Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Study and Research in the African Humanities, at Northwestern University in 1992 and in 2001 was the Lansdowne Scholar, Department of French, University of Victoria. She has acted as a visiting professor in the Faculty of Design and Art, Xiamen University of Technology (China), where she held guest professorship until December 2016.

She served two terms as Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts (now known as the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance) and was Directrice par interim of the Institut français at the University of Regina from 2012-2014.


  • D. ès L (Centre international d'études francophones - Université de Paris IV, Sorbonne, Paris, France) 1987
  • DEA (Centre international d'études francophones - Université de Paris IV, Sorbonne, Paris, France) 1984
  • M. ès L. (Centre international d'études francophones - Université de Paris IV, Sorbonne, Paris, France) 1983
  • BA (High Honours in French - University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK) 1982
  • L. è L. (Université de Nantes, Nantes, France) 1982




  • Directory of World Cinema: Africa. Bristol, UK/Chicago, USA: Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press, 2015, (co-editor with Blandine Stefanson), 420 pages.
  • Contact Zones: Memory, Origin and Discourses in Black Diasporic Cinema (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008), 304 pages. Shortlisted for the 2008 Saskatchewan Book Award in the category, Scholarly Writing.
  • Expressions culturelles des francophonies. Sous la direction de Ellen Chapco, Nicole Côté, Peter Dorrington et Sheila Petty. (Québec: Éditions Nota bene, 2008), 252 pages.
  • Atlantis: a Women’s Studies Journal, special issue, “Digital Feminisms,” Issue 32.2 (2008), co-edited with Barbara Crow of York University.
  • Canadian Cultural Poesis, anthology co-edited with G. Sherbert and A. Gérin, (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006), 528 pages.
  • A Call to Action: the Films of Ousmane Sembene, Ed. Sheila Petty, (Westport, CT:  Greenwood/Praeger/Flicks Books, 1996), 186 pages.


Articles and Chapters in Books

  • “Amazigh Road Movies,” with Brahim Benbouazza, submitted and accepted – New York Festival of Amazigh Cinema Book Symposium.
  • “Reset Mode: African Digital Videos a Expanded Cinema” for World Cinema on Demand, edited by Alexander Fisher and Stefano Baschiera, forthcoming New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • “‘Outsiders on the Inside’: Rokhaya Diallo’s Les marches de la liberté as Activist Documentary” for Women and/in Documentary Practice in Africa – S. Niang (ed.), Indiana University Press.
  • “’Irreducible Memories’ of Caribbeanness in Mariette Monpierre’s Elza” for The Film Archipelago: Islands in Latin American Cinema, Bloomsbury Academic.
  • A ascensão do musical africano: disjunção pós-colonial em Karmen Geï e Madame Brouette,” in Cinemas africanos contemporâneos: abordagens críticas / Ana Camila Esteves; Jusciele Oliveira (orgs.). – São Paulo: Sesc, 2021, pp. 62-76. [Translation into Portuguese of “The Rise of the African Musical: Postcolonial Disjunction in Karmen Gei and Madame Brouette” in Journal of African Cinemas, Vol. 1, no. 1, 2009: 93-110].
  • “Relational Histories in African Cinema” A Companion to African Cinema, First Edition. Edited by Kenneth W. Harrow and Carmela Garritano, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2019: 423-443.
  • “Memory as Engagement: the Importance of Personal Histories in sub-Saharan African Cinema,” in African Film Cultures: Contexts of Creation and Circulation, Eds. W. Mano, B. Knorpp, A. Agina, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017: 14-30.
  • “’All that is Canadian’: Identity and Belonging in the Video and Performance Artwork of Camille Turner,” in Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada, ed. Heather Davis, Kingston/Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press and MAWA, 2017: 169-181.
  • “Postcolonial Transformations: from Emitaï (Sembène) to Moodaadé (Sembène),” in Ousmane Sembène: Writer, Filmmaker, and Revolutionary Artist, eds. Ernest Cole and Oumar Chérif Diop, Trenton: Africa World Press, 2015: 219-236. REPRINT.
  • “We All Invented Our Own Algeria: Habiba Djhanine’s Lettre à ma Soeur” in Post 1990 Documentary: Reconfiguring Independence. Eds. Judith Pernin and Camille Deprez, Edinburgh University Press, 2015:125-137.
  • “Digital Video Films as “Independent” African Cinema” in The Meaning of Independence: Independent Filmmaking around the Globe. Erickson/Baltruschat, U of Toronto Press, 2015: 255-269.
  • “Digital Melancholia: Archived Bodies in Carmin Karasic’s With Liberty and Justice for All” in Embodied Politics: Visual Autobiography, eds. Sarah Brophy and Janice Hladki, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014: 225-243.
  • “Relational Constructs: Discourses of Gender in Taafe Fanga” in Critical Approaches to African Cinema Discourse. Ed. N. Frank Ukadike, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014:193-208.
  • “Interpretive Strategies for Analyzing Digital Texts,” S. Petty, L. Benedicenti, in Information Systems and Technology for Organizations in a Networked Society, eds. Tomayess Issa, Pedro Isaias and Piet Kommers. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2013: 53-66.
  • “African Frameworks of Analysis for African Film Studies,” in De-Westernizing Film Studies. Eds. Will Higbee and Saer Maty Ba. London and New York: Routledge, 2012: 67-79.
  • “Frameworks for Effective Screen-Centred Interfaces,” L. Benedicenti, S. Petty, C. Riegel and K. Robinson, Advanced Information Technology in Education, Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg, 2012: 295-301.
  • “The ‘Hood’ Reconfigured: Black Masculinity in Rude,” by D.L. McGregor and Sheila Petty, in Making it Like a Man. Ed. Christine Ramsay, Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2011:133-147.
  • “(Re)Encoding Race: Black World-Sense in Wayne Dunkley’s the degradation and removal of the/a black male” in AfroGEEKS: Beyond the Digital Divide, Eds. Anna Everett and Amber J. Wallace, Santa Barbara: Center for Black Studies Research, 2007: 101-11.
  • ”The Iterative Circle: Appropriation and Transformation of Web Narratives in Amika” in Fluid Screens:  Expanded Cinema, Eds. S. Lord and J. Marchessault, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007: 96-110. 
  • ”Interrogating the Archive: Interstitial Digital Aesthetics” in Obsession, Compulsion, Collection: On Objects, Display Culture, and Interpretation, (ed.) Anthony Kiendl, Banff, The Banff Centre Press, 2004: 317-29.
  • “(Re)Visioning Histories: Racism in Early Prairie Cinema” in Racism Eh? A Critical Inter-Disciplinary Anthology of Race and Racism in Canada, Eds. Camille A Nelson and Charmaine A. Nelson Toronto: Captus Press, 2004: 326-336.
  • “Two Lawyers and an Issue: Reconstructing Quebec’s Nation,” in A Nous Deux!” in Slippery Pastimes:  a Canadian Popular Culture Reader, Eds. J. Nicks and J. Sloniowski, Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2002: 127-139.
  • “Silence and Its Opposite: Expressions of Race in Tongues Untied” in Documenting the Documentary:  Close Readings of Documentary Film and Video, Eds. B. Grant and J. Sloniowski,  Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998: 416-428.
  • “Towards a Changing Africa: Women’s Roles in the Films of Ousmane Sembene,” in A Call to Action:  the Films of Ousmane Sembene, Ed. Sheila Petty, (Westport, CT: Greenwood/Praeger/Flicks Books, 1996): 67-86.
  • “Whose Nation is it Anyhow? The Politics of Reading African Cinema in the West,” in L’Afrique et le Centenaire du Cinéma/Africa and the Centenary of Cinema, Ed. FEPACI, (Paris, Présence Africaine, 1995): 188-193.
  • “(Re)Presenting the Self: Identity and Consciousness in the Feature Films of Safi Faye,” in International Women’s Writing:  New Landscapes of Identity, Eds. A. E. Brown and M. E. Goozé, (Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 1995): 19-28.
  • “Le Geste plus important que la parole: Emitai,” in Films d’Afrique, Ed. M. Larouche, (Montréal: Editions Guernica, 1991): 9-20.
  • “La Représentation de la femme dans le cinéma Africain,” in Films d’Afrique. Ed. M. Larouche, (Montréal: Editions Guernica, 1991): 127-141.


Refereed Articles

  • "What Republic of Equality?: "Migration Turn" Films in Contemporary France," submitted to Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies.
  • “Afrofuture Ecosystems,” with Marie-Paule Macdonald, U. Waterloo, forthcoming International Journal of Francophone Studies, Ed. Suzanne Crosta.
  • “Representational Sovereignty in Moroccan Amazigh Documentary Film” (with Brahim Benbouazza), Studies in American Indian Literatures Special Issue: “Sovereign Histories, Gathering Bones, Embodying Land,” Vol. 32, Nos. 3-4, Fall-Winter 2020: 129-148.
  • “FESPACO and its Many Afterlives,” Black Camera: an International Film Journal, special issue: “African Cinema: Manifesto and Practice for Cultural Decolonization, Part I: FESPACO: Formation, Evolution, Challenges,” Volume 12, No, 1, Fall 2020: 276-281.
  • “’Qui fait la France?’: reconstructing French identity in Louiza Benrezzak’s Terre Mère,” Traversées. Frontières et circulations dans les films d’Afrique et de sa diaspora – Écrans 2, No. 10. (Classiques Garnier): 2020: 75-92.
  • “Epistolarity, Voice, and Reconciliation in Recent North African Documentaries. Área Abierta. Revista de comunicación audiovisual y publicitaria 19 (3), 2019: 347-361.
  • “Trans-Indigenous Aesthetics and Practices in Moroccan Amazigh Film and Video” (with Brahim Benbouazza), Expressions maghrébines (special issue on transnational Moroccan cinema) Vol. 18, nº 1, summer 2019: 47-62.
  • “Performing the Historical Moment: Nadia Seboussi’s Hidad,” Cahiers d’Études africaines, (2018), LVIII (2), 230, pp. 455-467.
  • “Unsilencing History: Reclaiming African Cultural Heritage in Kemtiyu – Séex Anta,” Black Camera, Vol. 9, No. 2, (Spring 2018), pp. 414-426.
  • “Authoring Terrorism in Aziz Sâadallah’s Le Temps du Terrorisme,” Studies in French Cinema (2018), pp. 1-13. Published online Feb. 14, 2018. DOI: 10.1080/14715880.2017.1411576
  • « Espaces de mobilité et identités transvergentes dans Bedwin Hacker de Nadia El Fani » Identité/Identités. Nouveaux Cahiers de Marge - Université Jean Moulin Lyon III, January 2018.
  • “Excavating Memory And History in the Turtles' Song, A Moroccan Revolution,” Critical Interventions, (2017) 11:3, 236-247, DOI: 10.1080/19301944.2017.1401379
  • « Le cinéma marocain comme vecteur de mémoire politique » in « Mémoires et Identités au cinéma,” CinémAction 163, (2017): 143-49.
  • “”Interpretive Strategies for Screen-Based Creative Technologies,” S. Petty and L. Benedicenti, International Journal of Information System Modeling and Design, Vol. 7, Issue 1 (Jan-Mar 2016): 32-48.
  • « Interstices. Exil, émigration et représentation de la mémoire dans La Langue de Zahra », Diogène, n° 245, janvier-mars 2014: 53-67. Reprint as «Spaces in-Between: Exile, Emigration, and the Performance of Memory in Zahra’s Mother Tongue” Diogenes, 2016, DOI: 10.1177/0392192116666993
  • “Reterritorialization in African Documentary Films: Sacred Places and Arlit: Deuxième Paris”, NKA Journal of African Art, No. 32, Spring 2013: 70-79.
  • “Aesthetic and Narrative Strategies in the Films of Selected African Women Directors,” Journal of African Cinemas, Vol. 4., No. 2, (2012): 145-155.
  • “New Theories and Methods for Screen-Centred Interfaces: a Pilot Study,” Petty, Benedicenti, Riegel, Robinson. Scholarly and Research Communication, 3 (3):7 pp., 2012.
  • “Globalization, Identity, and Youth Resistance: Kenya’s Hip Hop Parliament”, co-Authors:. Charity Marsh, Sheila Petty, MUSICultures 38, 2011: 132-143.
  • “Postcolonial Transformations: from Emitaï (Sembène 1971) to Moolaadé (Sembène 2004),” International Journal of Francophone Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3 (2011): 323-338.
  • “Self-Styling Identities in Recent African Screen Media,” Critical Interventions 8, (Spring 2011): 25-35.
  • “Embracing and Living World-Sense,” report in Canadian Journal of Communication, Special Issue on Race, Ethnicity, and Intercultural Communication. Vol. 34, No. 4, 2009: 731-33.
  • “The Rise of the African Musical: Postcolonial Disjunction in Karmen Gei and Madame Brouette” in Journal of African Cinemas, Vol. 1, no. 1, 2009: 93-110.
  • “The Influence of Ubiquity on Screen-Based Interfaces,” S. Petty and L. Benedicenti, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2010, Volume 6335/2010, pp. 191-199, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-15470-6_21.
  • “Pugnacité et pouvoir: la représentation des femmes dans les films d’Ousmane Sembène,” Présence Francophone, no. 71, 2008: 20-39. Reprinted in Un viatique pour l’éternité : Hommage à Ousmane Sembène. Dakar, Editions Papyrus Afrique, 2010 : 17-52.
  • “Afrofuturist Visions in John Akomfrah’s Last Angel of History”, Screening Noir: Journal of Black Film, Television and New Media Culture, Vol. 1, No. 2. Spring/Summer 2008: 5-15.
  • “Postcolonial Geographies: Landscape and Alienation in Clando”  in French Literature Series XXX (2003), Amsterdam and New York:  Rodopi Press, pp. 167-178.  Reprinted in ed. Alexie Tcheuyap, Cinema and Social Discourse in Cameroon, Bayreuth African Studies 69, Bayreuth: U of Bayreuth Press, 2005: 159-171.
  • “New Technologies and New Forms of Expression: Towards an Aesthetics of New Media” for Soil Digital Media Suite Web Site (, launched Sept.13, 2001. 
  • “The Metropolitan Myth: Assimilation, Racism and Cultural Devaluation in Soleil O and Pièces d’Identités,” in L’Esprit créateur, Vol. XLI, No. 3 (Fall 2001): 163-171.
  • “Mapping the African ‘I’: Representations of Women in La noire de… and Histoire d’Orokia,” in  Social Identities, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Sept. 2000): 305-321.
  • “The Archeology of Origin: Transnational Visions of Africa in a Borderless Cinema,”  in African Studies Review, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Sept. 1999): 73-86.
  • “‘How an African Woman Can Be’: African Women Filmmakers Construct Women,” in Discourse: a Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture3, (Spring 1996): 72-88.
  • “Miseria: Towards an African Feminist Framework of Analysis,” in IRIS: a Journal of Theory on Image and Sound 18, (Spring 1995): 137-145; translated into German, "Miseria-'No Woman, No Cry?'" in Marie-Helene Gutberlet/Hans-Peter Metzler (Eds.), Afrikanisches Kino (Bad Honnef: Horlemann, 1997), Arte Edition. pp 151-160.
  • “Miseria: The Evolution of a Unique Melodramatic Form,” in Passages: a Chronicle of the Humanities, Issue 8, (1994): 19-20. (15 pages).
  • “African Cinema and (Re)Education: Using Recent African Feature Films” in Issue: A Journal of Opinion, Vol. XX/2, (Summer 1992): 26-30.
  • “Cities, Subjects, Sites: Sub-Saharan Cinema and the Reorganization of Knowledge,” in Afterimage, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Summer 1991):  10, 11, 18 (15 pages).
  • “Black African Feminist Filmmaking?” in Society for Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Spring 1990): 60-64; reprinted in African Experiences of Cinema, Eds. M. Cham and I. Bakari, (London: BFI, 1996): 185-193.
  • “Black Mic-Mac and Colonial Discourse,” in Cineaction, No. 18 (Fall 1989): 51-54.
  • “Images of Women and Oppression in Francophone West-African Film,” in Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol. 14, no. 3 (Fall 1989): 17-28.
  • “Women and Language in Francophone West African Film,” in Parachute, (Sept/Oct/Nov 1988): 45-47.
  • “Women’s Societal Roles and Their Depiction in Black African Film,” in Resources for Feminist Research: Documentation sur la recherche féministe, Vol. 17, no. 2 (June 1988): 27-28.


Exhibitions Curated

  • “Life = Cinema,” Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Nov. 19, 2010-Jan. 11, 2011. This exhibition explores “Godardian dialectics” in new works by Regina visual artists, Jack Anderson and Jeannie Mah and ran in conjunction with the Regina arts community’s city-wide events focused on French New Wave cinema director Jean-Luc Godard’s 80th birthday.
  • “Transnational Convergences in African Digital Art,“ Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Nov. 14, 2008-Jan. 18, 2009.
  • “Racing the Cultural Interface: African Diasporic Identities in the Digital Age,” Neutral Ground Artist-Run Centre, Regina, October 16-November 20, 2004; Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, Halifax, January 15 – February 27, 2005.
  • “The Archaeology of Origin: Transnational Visions of Africa in a Borderless Cinema,” Dunlop Art Gallery and Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, Feb. 3-March 20, 2000.
  • “Same Time, Same Channel: Producing Nations Around the World,” Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Sept. 21-Nov. 3, 1996.
  • “Classics of World Cinema: Focus on Africa,” (curated, wrote and presented introductions to 13-part TV series for SCN and the Banff Centre for the Arts Television and New Media Co-Productions, (aired January 28-April 22, 1995).
  • “Inventions of Nation,” Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, March 10-31, 1993; Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, June 11-August 2, 1994.
  • “Inside/Outside: Possessions of Memory,” Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, April 2-16, 1992.
  • “Colonization, Gender and theMy Body,” Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Feb. 25-March 17, 1992.
  • “Identity and Consciousness: (Re) Presenting the Self,” Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Jan. 15-Feb 12, 1991.
  • “The Woman’s Voice: Feminist Films of the 1970’s and 1980’s,” Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, January 30-March 13, 1990.