Submit an Abstract & Register Online! Colloquium: African Intellectual Mobilities at the University of York

African Intellectual Mobilities: Diasporic Travel and Texts, Past and Present

Saturday 7 February 2015, 9:00am–5:30pm & wine reception

The Treehouse, Humanities Research Centre, University of York 


Featuring a reading by and interview with Noo Saro-Wiwa, acclaimed author of Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria, who is working on her second book;

A keynote by Dr Alasdair Pettinger, editor of pioneering anthology Always Elsewhere: Travels of the Black Atlantic, on the mid-19th-century travels and writings of African-American visitors to Britain and Ireland, Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown, and how they might be read in relation to other black travel accounts and articulations. Tim Youngs, editor of Studies in Travel Writing, will respond.


This one-day colloquium hosted by the Department of English & Related Literature, University of York, UK, with the Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Linnaeus University, Sweden, is dedicated to exploring historical and contemporary African and diasporic ‘travel writing’ and black travel and textual cultures. The event builds on the growing attention given to the vibrant, but understudied, area of African and diasporic travel texts and contexts, rather than the more established critical arena that interrogates largely white travel accounts about black subjects and territories.

While the historical shadow of forced mobility and migration related to Africa is deeply and widely felt, the compass of African and black diasporic travel is extensive and multivariate. Trade, politics, education, mission, advocacy, work, tourism, entertainment, aid, and media are just some of reasons and manifestations of African and diasporic travel linked to volitional mobility. The scope of narratives, treatments, gazes, and questions, and their role in shaping African intellectual histories, is compelling and deserving of greater critical and readerly consideration.

The colloquium seeks to bring together those interested in travel and mobility, and associated writings and creative modes, in relation to Africa, the black diaspora, and other relevant colonial and postcolonial contexts. What can be constituted as African and diasporic travel writing and how do we understand black print cultures linked to mobility? What are the historical and contemporary currents? How have African and black diasporic travel writings been imagined, communicated, consumed? What futures might there be for African intellectual mobility?

In addition to the keynote, reading and interview, the colloquium welcomes participation in the form of presentations or papers, but also more informal reports of research-in-progress. Prospective contributors are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 300 words for consideration, accompanied by a short biography and a note of key questions for engagement by 19 January 2015.

Register online at charge, but attendees will need to cover their own travel costs.

Email for expressions of interest and submission of abstracts.

Co-organisers: Prof David Attwell, Dr Nicklas Hållén, Janet Remmington


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