Call for Papers
Contemporary Africas, Creative Africas: Conceptual and Methodological Advances in African Studies
University of Leeds
4-5 April 2019
How does one make sense of Africa – as a place and an idea – today? How should we study the dynamics in African societies and cultures as part of our constantly shifting world with its paradoxes of globalisation and locality, postcoloniality and neo-colonialism, a neo-liberal world order and alternative collective imaginaries? How are cultural objects and performances shaping the way that Africa is figured imaginatively and what kind of politics is emerging around cultural representation? What are the innovative concepts and methodologies needed to engage and understand Africa, both as a site of critical new plays for power – between ‘the people’ and ‘the state’ for instance – and as an actor in a changing global political environment? What theoretical and methodological advances are required to push African Studies as a field beyond its problematic histories and trajectories, and to take seriously the quest for decolonisation?
Building on its long history of a multidisciplinary and critical study of African societies, cultures and politics, the Leeds University Centre for African Studies invites proposals for panels and papers with cutting-edge empirical and theoretical research into Africa’s multiple realities, dynamics and meanings. We specifically welcome contributions that probe new methods and concepts from across the social sciences and humanities in order to advance our understanding of Africa as a place and an idea, and the state of African Studies as a field.
We are interested in any proposal that addresses the above questions. For instance, we welcome paper and panel proposals about:
- Civil Society and Social Movements in Africa
- African Politics and Political Economies
- Religious Transformations in Africa
- African Arts and Creative Cultures
- Africa in the Current World Order
- Decolonising African Studies
- Gender and Queer Africa
- Representations of Africa
- African Urban Worlds
- Methodological innovations in African Studies
- Ethical challenges in African Studies
How to Apply
Call for Papers
African Places, African Spaces
Finding Africa Seminar Series
University of Leeds
In light of contemporary concerns with decolonisation and meditations on the meaning of the continent of Africa, both within the academy and beyond, we invite papers concerned with African Places, African Spaces as part of our 2019 seminar series hosted in collaboration with the Leeds University Centre for African Studies and Leeds School of English.
For this series, we are interested in papers that address the ways in which Africa is figured as a place and how it occupies space in global thought. This interrogation involves questions about African ontologies, epistemologies, philosophies and literatures comparatively within the continent itself, in relation to other postcolonial contexts, and in terms of its contentious relationship with ‘the West’ or ‘North’.
Proposals can also address the primary question in relation to any of the following:
- What place does Africa have in global literature?
- What are the material aspects of life in African cities and villages as depicted in literature?
- How do explorations of these spaces inform how we view the relationship between individuals and their communities, and between the ‘local’, ‘regional’, ‘national’, ‘continental’, ‘diasporic’ and ‘global’?
- How does Africa occupy discursive, cultural and material spaces?
- How does Africa travel in film, journalistic, academic, literary and online spaces?
- Can we think of contemporary African travel writing (e.g. Noo Saro-Wiwa’s Looking for Transwonderland, Sihle Khumalo’s Dark Continent, My Black Arse & Chibundu Onuzo’s Welcome to Lagos) as examples of reflecting on the spatiality of Africa?
We are accepting proposals from any discipline and especially interdisciplinary work in this area. Proposals must be a maximum of 300 words (in Word format) and submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 January 2019.
Call for Papers
Recovering Subterranean Archives Conference
17-18 January 2019
The recent passing of South Africa’s poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile has occasioned an outcry regarding the relative absence of exiled writers in this country’s curricula and public discourse. South African literary history maintained, until the mid-2000s, the idea that the 1960s was a period of silence in South African cultural production. Numerous prominent writers were exiled by the stranglehold of apartheid, and these absent histories are directly linked to the regrettable state of cultural workers, dead and alive, who were actors in the worlding of South African literature, when a fascist regime sought to provincialize and delegitimize their intellectual pursuits. The effects of this are a warped and distorted perception of our knowledge systems – an onto-epistemic disillusionment.
Because of banning, censorship and the threat of imprisonment, South African cultural workers have produced art in almost every continent, in what could be deemed subterranean conditions, and the consequence of this is the lacuna we are confronted with today in our attempts to recover, engage, expose, teach, and promote their work. Our project ‘Recovering Subterranean Archives’, is directed at research into a range of literary, visual, and performance texts that currently remain in exile. The project’s main objective is to investigate South Africa’s deterritorialized national culture. The call for decolonization is a call for this library to surface and to be disseminated, diffusing the uniformity of colonial archives and epistemology which persist even under democracy.
Accordingly, we would like to host a two-day conference in which we explore South African cultural work in exile. Areas of interest include (but are not limited to)
- The evolution of Black intellectual culture;
- national literatures;
- world literature and the vernacular,
- Bantu migrations and contemporary exile,
- middle passage and contemporary black diasporas,
- national languages and their transnational permutations,
- border crossings and temporalities,
- intersections of anti-apartheid, anti-coloniality, pan-Africanism, and tri-continentalism.
We will circulate a programme once all abstracts have been received. All submissions should be 300-word abstracts, which can be emailed to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 15 November 2018. Please include your affiliation (if any), along with your contact details and any access, dietary or other requirements you have. We welcome proposals for the delivery of presentations through art, performance, poetry, multimedia or any other mode of creative expression.
This anthology is the culmination of a pilot project called Thinking Outside the Penalty Box (2018), that Nick Makoha and Lizzy Attree started in 2016, supported by funding from the Arts Council, and produced in partnership with Arsenal, Chelsea and the Poetry Society.
The project attempts to showcase African footballers in a positive light. The main motivation of the work in Thinking Outside the Penalty Box is to tackle racism with positive, inspirational stories and ideas around the incredible achievements of players. The project focuses on examples of positive change in football and uses poetry to evoke and articulate the complex feelings and emotions bound up in the lives of African footballers. You can read some of the poems from this collection here.
Thinking Outside the Penalty Box aims to:
- tackle racism, sexism and stereotypes of ‘Africa’ in the UK;
- break down mythologies around footballers;
- link poetry with African footballers as a way of exploring feelings behind the stereotypes
We worked with Chelsea and Arsenal Football Clubs’ education teams on a series of workshops about the lives of African footballers that play or have played for their clubs.
In total we produced 9 workshops with Chelsea and Arsenal for children at primary schools working with around 100 students. It’s had a great impact on the kids we’ve worked with in London primary schools. Eniola Aluko was one of the main footballers we focussed on in the Chelsea workshops, along with the legendary Didier Drogba and Michael Essien, and her story had a dramatic impact on the children we worked with. At Arsenal we focussed on Kanu and his heart foundation and Chioma Ubogabu who plays for Arsenal Ladies.
You are knocked down, but you rise,
Running towards the net,
You were ready to fly
And you flew.
from ‘Eniola Aluko’ by Amelia Doherty
We partnered with Chelsea’s Education Team to visit Sir John Lillie Primary School, Sulivan Primary School and Marlborough Primary School, delivering workshops about the lives of African footballers to children aged 9-10 years old. The children composed poems during the workshop and responded to the sessions with feedback that included responses to the question: Did the workshop change your idea of African footballers?
Arsenal’s incredible Education and Literacy team produced an amazing 59-page booklet ‘Arsenal African Allstars’ for their Double Club that went out to all the schools they work with on literacy projects in 3 boroughs. Children from Hanover Primary School and St Andrews Primary School attended the workshops at the Arsenal Hub delivered by poets Theresa Lola and Sugar J, toured the Emirates stadium and played football in rotation. There was great feedback from one of the Year 2 teachers:
We are pleased to announce that the next seminar in our Theorising Africa series will be a paper titled “Libya’s Trapped African Migrants: A Case of Postmodern Slavery” which will be delivered by Nolwazi Nadia Ncube on 24 April at 4pm in the LHRI Seminar Room 1. This series is hosted in association with LUCAS and is open to all. Feel free to join our Facebook community to keep up with future events and announcements.
This paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach bringing together the field of Media Studies and Sociology, using Ross Kemp’s 2017 documentary entitled ‘Libya’s Migrant Hell’ as an entry point into the reconceptualization of this particular case of trapped migration as a form of not only postcolonial, but postmodern slavery. In this case study, migrants predominately from Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Sudan in an exodus to Europe via Libya are taking great stakes for a ‘better life’ in Europe. Within this process of pursuing a better life, some of these migrants are held ransom for the price of their continued; exploited and exposed to gendered vulnerabilities and harm en route to Italy. They are trapped in an existence that is neither here – in their country of origin – nor there – in their desired destination. The paper explores these migrants through the lens of the ‘fourth space’, which is drawn from Bhabha’s (1994) concept of a ‘third space’.
This paper proposes that these African migrants exist in fourth space – trapped, unwanted, unrecognised and forgotten by (i) Libya, (ii) Europe and (iii) their home country. The paper critiques the Weberian concept of ‘lebeschancen’ (life chances) employing the Ndebele proverb ‘ithemba alibulali’ (hope does not kill) as an extended metaphor and African appropriation of their condition that encapsulates the dehumanizing dangers of seeking a better life at any and all costs. The operationalization of this proverb into a conceptual tool in this paper marks une petite rupture with the transposition of African theories into and onto existing frames of European philosophical thought. In a quasi-non-conformist fashion, the paper breaks away from rather than replicates and re-enforces value-laden binaries such as better/worse, modern/traditional and developed/developing amidst a dominant tide of academic rhetoric in which ‘indigenous’ and ‘ethno’ are prefixed to African epistemologies in such a way as to delegitimise them as theories by fixating on their locality. In this instance Ndebele refers to the language spoken by the same-named African tribe in Zimbabwe, also known as the Matabele.
About Nolwazi Nadia Ncube
Nolwazi Nadia Ncube is a PhD student at the Department of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen. Her main research interests are the Sociology of Reproduction and the Body, Socio-linguistics, Gender Studies, Development Studies, Public Health and Transmigration Studies. She is Elphinstone Scholar at the University of Aberdeen who is interested in theory from and of Africa and her PhD topic which is titled, Menstruation Narratives: Through Narratives of the Zimbabwean Rural Girl Child aims to capture cultural narrative in a work linked to a program that she founded in 2015 called ‘Save the Girl-with-a-Vision’ (SGV). The program supports 70 girls in the village of Mbizingwe in Esigodini, Zimbabwe. Through SGV, Nadia advocates for the sexual reproductive health and rights of rural girl and widens the access to sanitary wear for the SGV programme beneficiaries in an effort to curb school girl absenteeism. Nadia speaks Ndebele, Zulu, Shona, French and English. She considers her proficiency in these languages to be a rich archive from which critical theories of Africa can be accessed and transformed.
Nadia holds three degrees in Sociology from UCT – a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), a Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) in Development Studies and Master of Social Science in Global Studies. During her master’s she was the awardee of the merit-based International Student Scholarship. She has a heart for the plight of women, children and marginalised groups and is a published poet, journalist and creative writer with a fourthcoming article in the African Journal of Social Work entitled, ‘Citizenship Alterities: The Case of Birth Registration: the Case of Birth Registrations in the Tongogara Refugee Camp of Zimbabwe’ (Ncube, Chimbwanda & Willie, 2018).
The next seminar paper in our Theorising Africa series will be delivered by Stephen Bulman and is entitled “Re-thinking Sunjata: epics and epistemology in West African oral narratives”. The seminar will take place on 27 March at the LHRI seminar room 1 at 4pm. The event is free and open to all.
African oral epics, in common with African oral traditions as a whole, have in the past too often been understood as hallowed messages from the past, handed down unchanged from generation to generation. New thinking based on analysis of Manding epics about Sunjata Keita and his rival for power Sumanguru Kante, two legendary rulers from the pre-colonial era, suggests that such oral traditions are part of a cultural meta-discourse fashioned and re-fashioned over time in response to social and political shifts; and their tellers, hereditary griots or jeliw, intellectual actors whose narratives help shape and re-form the identities of, and relationships between, cultural and social groups. This seminar will examine how the recently published Epic of Sumanguru Kante, a narrative retelling medieval Mali’s foundation from the perspective of Sunjata’s defeated rival, offers fresh insights into the role of African historical oral poetry in shaping Manding ‘oral historiography’ and epistemology.
He said: It is true, indeed, I came with my name. My name is Soo-Maanguru. That’s the meaning of being Sumanguru. He said: I, here, I will not be slave. I will not be lackey.
– Bulman The Epic of Sumanguru Kante (2017)
About Stephen Bulman
Stephen Bulman (Ph.D. Birmingham 1990) studied the Epic of Sunjata as a doctoral student. He has taught history at Newman University in Birmingham, worked as an academic at Leeds Trinity University and Cumbria University, and has published several studies of the Epic of Sunjata and related African oral traditions including, with Valentin Vydrine, a critical source edition of The Epic of Sumanguru (Brill, 2017) based on an oral epic he recorded in the Republic of Mali.