Our next seminar takes place on the 14th of May in Seminar Room 2 of the Leeds Arts Humanities Research Institute at 4 pm. The open to all.
Translocality, Small Magazines and Nigerian Poetry by Rachel Bower
This paper considers some of the small literary magazines that emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Ibadan and Leeds, with a particular focus on the poetry published in The Horn (University College, Ibadan, est. 1958) and Poetry and Audience (University of Leeds, est. 1953). I look closely at the work of Minji Karibo, a student at Ibadan, and also consider other magazines, including Outposts (Hull), Ibadan (Ibadan) and Fresh Buds (Nsukka). The paper focuses on these specific examples as case studies from the period of decolonisation, in which multiple and diverse literary communities experienced a series of locally specific transformations. The concept of translocality therefore underpins this investigation into the African literary materials that developed in this period.
The informal, often student-run, magazines from this period were underpinned by literary relations between Nigeria and the UK, and sometimes by direct collaboration between poets in Ibadan and Leeds. Writers with connections to both cities contributed to or edited The Horn and Poetry and Audience for instance, including Wole Soyinka, J.P. Clark, Aigboje Higo, Kalu Uka, Tony Harrison, James Simmons, Martin Banham, John Heath-Stubbs and Geoffrey Hill. Some of these writers are now celebrated as national literary heroes. This paper not only adds to existing evidence showing that student magazines were important in constituting literary communities in Africa (and the UK) during this period, however, but also shows that we must look beyond the ‘nation’ if we are to better understand how literary relations shape literary aesthetics – in this case, African literary materials in English. The paper combines close reading with an analysis of the literary fields in which these magazines were produced, to show how translocality and collaboration are key to understanding the craft of a key generation of poets in Britain and Nigeria during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
About Our Speaker
Dr Rachel Bower is a poet and a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. She is the author of Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018). She is the co-editor of a special issue of English Studies on Tony Harrison, and a special issue of The Journal of Commonwealth Literature on the crafts of world literature. Rachel also edited the Verse Matters anthology with Helen Mort (Valley Press, 2017). Her poems have been published in Stand Magazine, New Welsh Reader, The Interpreter’s House, Frontier, Popshot Magazineand many other places and she has also been shortlisted for the London Magazine Poetry Prize and won several other poetry prizes.
Leeds Humanities Arts Research Institute (Seminar Room 2)
Re-thinking African Decolonisation: representation of self and the motherland by African travel writers by Kirapreet Kaur
Travel writing, as a genre, has a unique power to construct, deconstruct and reconstruct the identity of any foreign space and its inhabitants for the world. It is through travel literature that the world has seen, felt and traversed the other world. This genre has not only been instrumental in defining, describing and detailing the unseen lands, such as Africa, for the other part of the world, specifically the western world. Rather, it has also influenced the ways through which the indigenous know and understand themselves and their land.
For a significant amount of time the genre has been known as a western tool of representation of faraway lands for western utilitarian and adventurous eyes. However, since last decade a notable shift in this power structure of knowledge production can be seen with the fame of African authored travel narratives about Africa. African authors could be seen grappling with the westernised construction of African identity, through their travel narratives. Though the canon of African travel writers could be seen confronting the stereotypical image constructed by the Victorian travellers, still the relevance and continuous presence of the colonial nostalgia cannot be ruled off.
This paper proposes to discuss the travel narratives by three contemporary African travel writers: Orford Catja, Sihle Khumalo and Maskaram Hailey. The paper will discuss the representation of African space by these travellers in context with their own struggle for identity. How the authors position their identity in context with bigger African identity? What influence do (or do not) the Victorian travellers hold in the contemporary world of African travellers? How relevant is this influence when compared to the African space, that is, how deeply (or not) the colonial nostalgia is rooted in the African structure of self-knowledge?
‘That Which Eats at You Is Within You’: Dismembering Colonial Education and the Traumatic Consumption of the Mother Tongue in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Longue Durée Narrative by Aislinn Malson Kelly
In the spring of 2018, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s 1988 novel Nervous Conditions was placed on BBC Culture’s list of “100 stories that shaped the world,” a list meant to reinscribe the global importance of the selected texts and to contribute to their durability as cross-cultural and transnational “classics” and open a discussion about the endurance of some texts and not others. It is important to be aware of Nervous Conditions’ place in this global literary canon and its continued prominence in the academy because this novel and its sequels are, in part, bearing witness to a traumatizing and epistemicidal colonial education. Before the third book was published, the scholarly conversation about Dangarembga’s first two novels hopefully anticipated that This Mournable Body would narratively close the traumatic wounds opened in Nervous Conditions. This closure is subverted and complicated by the final book, published in 2018, which shows that Tambudzai Sigauke’s difficult project of recuperating herself in postcolonial Zimbabwe continues beyond the final page of the novel, just as the project of decolonization continues and is continuous with earlier processes of existence and resistance. That is, Dangarembga’s novels are structured in the style of what I am calling a literary longue durée, a textual space and temporality that bears witness to the continuity of colonial and postcolonial circumstances and that is informed by the traumas of a colonial education. Through a deconstructive micro-analysis of passages from all three books featuring the linked themes of language, education, punishment, consumption, and nourishment, I argue that colonial education is a force that consumes the mother tongue (language), is responsible for an epistemicidal bingeing and purging cycle of consuming only imposed literatures and histories, and is in tension with the consumption of food and the recuperative (consumption as recuperation) gesture of Tambudzai’s own mother’s tongue.
About our Speakers
Kiranpreet Kaur is a Ph.D student at Department of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham. She is working on both British and African authored African Travel Writings under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca Jones and Dr. Kate Skinner from the Department of African Studies and Anthropology and Dr. Asha Rogers from Department of English. Her work focuses on African identity construction in colonial and postcolonial Anglophone African Travel narratives. She holds an M.Phil degree in English from the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India. She has published in various research journals and has also published a book that is a collection of poems in Punjabi language. Along with this, she has worked as a creative head for Bombay based Film Company. She has written fiction and non-fiction for them for two years.
Aislinn Kelly is
currently pursuing an MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature, Culture, and
Thought in the School of English at the University of Sussex. She graduated
summa cum laude from the University of North Florida (UNF) in Fall 2017 with a
BA in English. She is interested in the way literature uses archives and in the
textual-biological tension between bodies and the archives that represent,
replace, and erase them. Her literary-critical interests inform her practice.
She has assisted a historian in the Weston Library, Oxford, with transcribing
colonial papers and has experience working on a number of archival projects,
including the digitization of the Eartha M. M. White papers in the UNF special
collections. Most recently, she has helped move the print archive of the Total Theatre
Magazine into an online repository. Her other research interests include
disability studies and non-canonical WWI literature. Her article “Passing
Through a World of Birds: The Performance and Signification of Blindness in
Stephen Kuusisto’s Planet of the Blind” was published in 2018 in The
Sigma Tau Delta Review. She has presented her research on WWI writing at the
13th International Robert Graves Society Conference, at St. John’s College,
Oxford, and the SHARP affiliate panel at the South Atlantic Modern Language
Our first seminar in the 2019 series will be delivered on 02 April in Seminar Room 2 of the Leeds Arts Humanities Research Institute at 4 pm. The open to all.
“A revolting immoral place”: Town Life and Sexuality in R.R.R. Dhlomo’s An African Tragedy by Sanja Nivesjö
R.R.R. Dhlomo’s An African Tragedy (1928) – one of the
first novels published in English by a black South African author – written in
the form of a morality tale and steeped in Christian ethics, depicts the moral
corruption of a black man from the countryside in the urban environment of
1920s Johannesburg, and the effects of this corruption on his family in the
In the 1920s, hegemonic forces in
the nascent South African nation posited the rural as the black person’s
“natural” home, at the same time as black urbanisation was rapidly increasing. I
argue that Dhlomo negotiates the theme of urban-rural relations and mediates
ideas of race and their relation to space through the trope of sexuality. The
urban seemingly becomes a hostile environment through its sexually corrupting
influence of prostitutes, single men, loose sexual morals, and syphilis, which
constitute a threat to the rural Christian patriarchal family. By reading the
novel from perspectives that critically interrogate sexual norms and space as a
social construct, I argue that the black person’s lived experience of space and
sexuality, as represented in the novel, disrupts and displaces this moral
lesson of black familial happiness in the countryside to indicate Dhlomo’s
engagement with a more complex spatial belonging.
An African Tragedy thus allows its reader insight into the contradictory conditions under which black South Africans lived in the city of the 1920s, and the ideological position that the rural space held, and how these conflicting experiences took expression and were imagined in early English language literature.
“This Fucking Forest”: The Bush as a Traumatic Space in African Literature by Elinor Rooks
The bush occupies a special place within
African literature. From the earliest moments of African publishing—Amos
Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1955)—the
bush has functioned as a particularly potent literary space, one which blurs
boundaries between the real and fantastic, the internal and external, the past
and the present. These literary uses of the bush are rooted
in the history of African vernacular theories of the bush. Vernacular theories
of the bush make many uses of it, including reckoning with traumatic histories.
Just as the bush enfolds villages abandoned to war, it holds the spirits and
ghosts that enact these troubling histories.
I propose to explore literary uses of the bush as a space of trauma, focusing on Tutuola’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1957) and Chris Abani’s Song for Night (2007). Both authors use the bush as a space of death, war and memory. Set during two civil wars—the Yoruba Wars and the Biafran War—the novels track dislocated boys journeying through nightmarish, ghostly forests populated with spirits embodying the terrors of war. Abani’s protagonist retraces his steps, moving through the distorted spaces of traumatic memory, towards acceptance of his own death. For the ghost My Luck, there is no stable boundary between the inner and outer worlds—his memories are overlaid onto and merge with the blighted countryside. There is no distinction between the ruined landscape and his ruined mind. Although the bush functions similarly in Tutuola’s novels, critics have missed this. Abani’s clear use of the bush helps highlight its functions in Tutuola. Just as the physical bush resists mapping, the literary bush opens smooth textual spaces, enabling authors to tackle painful topics with fierce freedom.
About our Speakers
Sanja Nivesjö is completing a joint PhD at the Department of English, Stockholm University, Sweden and Justus Liebig University, Germany. She is interested in South African literature, sexuality and gender studies, and queer theory. Her PhD project looks at the relationship between sexuality and spatiality in 20th and 21st century South African literature in English. From a queer theoretical perspective she looks at how sexuality is both represented and used as a trope in the literature to negotiate belonging to different types of spaces, and in extension a belonging to community and, perhaps, to the nation. She has published an essay on the queering of literary form and content in response to a crisis of whiteness in Nadine Gordimer’s novel The Conservationist (1974) and in J.M. Coetzee’s novel In the Heart of the Country (1977). Together with Heidi Barends from UCT, she is the guest editor of a forthcoming special issue on Olive Schreiner’s novel From Man to Man (1926) for the Journal of Commonwealth Literature.
Elinor Rooks is an independent researcher in African literature, history and culture. She completed her PhD at the University of Leeds with her dissertation, “Vernacular Critique, Deleuzo-Guattarian Theory and Cultural Historicism in West African and Southern African Literatures,” focussing on the novels of Bessie Head and Amos Tutuola. She is currently researching responses to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and is authoring a book on Tutuola. She also serves as the reviews editor for Red Pepper Magazine and works as a freelance editor.
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:
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.
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;
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.
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.
The field of cultural theory has – for as long as it’s been a discipline – been dominated by Western epistemologies. Our ways of knowing have, undoubtably, always required a framework through which they can be conceptualised – or even legitimised. The consequence of this institutionalisation of thought, which has its roots in a myriad of complex historical and structural implementations of power, is that other epistemologies often get overlooked or even rebranded under different names or theories, at the behest of fitting the demands and criteria of Western academe. The notion of a history of ideas that is grounded in a Euro-American paradigm obscures, and limits, our understanding of and engagement with the multiplicities of meaning at work in cultural analysis. Theorising Africa seeks to explore what it means to be human, to be a member of society, through the exploration of identity, aesthetics, and politics by placing cultural theory and African epistemic frameworks in dialogue.
The concept of Ubuntu finds its distorted counterpart in some versions of post-humanist thought. Ideas of community deriving from Igbo cosmology similarly find their traces – albeit inversely – in much of the discourses pertaining to community building in the fields of cultural theory, law, and literature. Subverting the closure inherent in binary oppositions, we seek to bridge the divide that has so far disadvantaged African epistemologies on the academic platform, entering into dialogue and engaging with a richly diverse history of ideas.
For this seminar series we are interested in looking to Africa for its history of ideas: How has African thought transcended boundaries and how can it continue to do so? What can African thought contribute to the many blind spots in the fields of cultural theory? How can these contributions account for the work of knowledge-making? In what ways are these contributions necessary?
We seek papers and proposals on topics including, but not limited to:
African literary theory
Reframing the history of ideas – philosophical interrogations
Politics and bio-violence
Feminisms and policy
Challenges to the legacy of the writer
Any non-conforming inquiry which doesn’t fall into a field
Please get in touch with proposals (max 300 words + bio) in Word format to email@example.com by 31 January 2018.
2nd Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST) International Conference
22-24 March 2018
University of the Witwatersrand
Molly Andrews is Professor of Political Psychology, and Co-director of the Centre for Narrative Research (www.uelac.uk/cnr/index.html) at the University of East London. Her research interests include political narratives, the psychological basis of political commitment, political identity, patriotism, and aging. She is currently working on a project called The Unbuilding of East Germany: Excavating Biography and History. Her books include Lifetimes of Commitment: Aging, Politics, Psychology and Shaping History: Narratives of Political Change (both Cambridge University Press), and Narrative Imagination and Everyday Life (Oxford University Press). Her publications have appeared in five languages.
Gabeba Baderoon is the author of Regarding Muslims: from Slavery to Postapartheid (awarded the 2017 National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences Best Non-fiction Monograph Award) and the poetry collections The Dream in the Next Body, The Museum of Ordinary Life and A hundred silences. She is a recipient of the Daimler Award for South African Poetry and is a member of the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund. With Alicia Decker, Baderoon co-directs the African Feminist Initiative at Pennsylvania State University, where she is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and African Studies. She is an Extraordinary Professor of English at Stellenbosch University and a Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.
CALL FOR PANELS AND PAPERS
Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST) is a research network launched in July 2015 with the aim to foster the theory and practice of narrative as a field of study through interdisciplinary research and empirical investigations into questions of human experience, development and social change. Its members are drawn from the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as creative and community-based constituencies. The current configuration of the NEST network allows for an articulation between the Arts, Social Sciences and Socio-psychological work.
NEST is informed by the principle that narrative is one of the defining features of what it means to be human. Personal and collective senses of self, experience, desires, fears and hopes are developed in and through narrative meaning-making, providing recognition and validation, and deepening our sense of human dignity across lines of difference and existence. The transformative possibilities of narrative lie in the ways in which it enables people to: give coherence to their lives and the world around them; develop forms of critical consciousness and thinking; imagine possible alternative social realities and futures; and, ultimately, not only to read them-selves and their place in the world but also to be read by others. It is people who make culture and culture that in turns remakes us, and this process is always political and potentially transformative.
NEST seeks to undertake research that traces ideologies, experiences and identities across time as constructed through inter / cross generational experience and storytelling; the reconstruction of (cultural memory); and transmission of unofficial histories and alternative narratives by ordinary people, particularly in families, communities, educational and creative contexts. Its research agenda incorporates a wide range of theoretical and critical conceptual and creative work that can be undertaken from multiple disciplinary perspectives and methodologies. The following constitute the core thematic threads of NEST:
The narrative formation of consciousness and subjectivities
Marginality, the body, affect and narrative
Narrative form and symbolic representations in multiple modalities: textual, visual, archival, aural and performative.
Developing knowledge and praxis through empirical projects
We invite papers and panels that use NEST research threads as a catalyst but other explorations of any aspects related to narrative are also welcome.
Once abstracts have been accepted, participants will be notified. The conference will take the form of pre-circulated papers for discussion. Full Papers will be due a month in advance of the conference to allow sufficient time for discussants to read.
Conveners: Jill Bradbury and Bhekizizwe Peterson
Committee Members: Hugo Canham, Lindelwa Dalamba, Cynthia Kros, Ronelle Carolissen, Grace Musila, and Khwezi Mkhize.
THE GENDER EQUALITY DISCOURSE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND OTHER INSTRUMENTS FOR GENDER EQUALITY : HOW FAR CAN SUCH INSTRUMENTS PUSH FEMINIST AGENDAS IN AFRICA FORWARD
Contributors are invited to write on the topic above from either a research or an activism perspective. Abstracts and contributions must be written in English and in a style accessible to a wide audience. Please submit abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. The deadline is15th August 2017.
Agenda has been at the forefront of feminist publishing in South Africa for the past 30 years and raises debate around women’s rights and gender issues. The journal is designed to promote critical thinking and debate and aims to strengthen the capacity of both men and women to challenge gender discrimination and injustice. The Agendajournal is an IBSS/SAPSE accredited and peer reviewed journal. You can visit the website to listen to check out past issues, listen to podcasts, or watch the web documentaries.
ABOUT SAT (Southern African AIDS Trust)
SAT is an innovative organization with a regional footprint contributing to improved systems for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of girls, adolescents and women in Southern Africa. We work to empower girls, adolescents and women to participate in inclusive and equitable systems for health at local, national and regional levels. SAT is inspired by its values and vision of a world in which resilient communities across Southern Africa enjoy good health and wellbeing free from stigma and discrimination. The ultimate goal is to contribute to improved health and well-being of girls, adolescents and young women in more equitable and inclusive systems for health.
GUEST EDITORS: Vicci Tallisand Claire Mathonsi
This edition of AGENDA seeks to interrogate the best way for us to impact on the lives of women and girls in Africa – thinking about feminist activism, women’s movements and advocacy on specific rights that may or may not be contained in international and Regional instruments. It also aims to interrogate ways to shift both thinking and action on gender equality and ensuring women’s rights.
At a global level the imperative for reaching gender equality is entrenched and driven by the Sustainable Development Goals (5 and to some extent 3 and 4), launched in 2015 as a follow on from the MGD’s. The goal of SDG 5 is to chieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. Government commitments (often driven by the promise or availability of resources) often pay lip service to the attainment of the SDG’s which highlight nine key areas and set targets that will “end” gender inequality:
End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation
Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate
Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life
Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences
Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws
Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels
Africa has her own vision of gender equality Agenda 2063 – “the Africa we want to be” and other instruments such as the Maputo Plan of Action on SRHR – which is seen as very progressive. The contradiction is that the Africa Bloc often pushes a more conservative agenda at a global level – highlighting the shrinking space for civil society in general and for women’s rights and gender specifically.
Feminists have long argued against the de-politising of “gender” which has become more and more technical and less about the power dynamics that drive the oppression of women. How then do we as movements use the SDG’s and other “technical” instruments to forward our struggles? This edition will explore the discourse of SDG’s and gender equality and examine how far such instruments can push our agendas forward:
Measuring African commitments against the SDGs. Identifying progressive instruments that take us further than the SDGs.
What are the experiences of African feminists in processes such as Commision on the Status of Women? Can we revolutionise and change such spaces?
With a background of some progressive legislation why does the Africa Group push a more conservative agenda at global level. What are the sticking points and how do we address these?
Is there currently a shrinking space for civil society especially around Women’s Rights & Gender – how can we increase agency and voice?
Does gender discourse really speak to women’s realities (in all our diversity) and does it provide solutions that will fundamentaly impact? Is gender equality feminist?
How do we, or do we need to rejuvenate the women’s movement? How do/have young women fit into that? What is our role in gender equality discourse and action
What, if anything, did the MDGs do for women’s rights, women’s lives and gender equality? Did this as a Northern agenda really tackle the issues of women in the South?
Maputo Plan of Action on SRHR – is it a feminist agenda? How do we deal with instruments being watered down at regional and country levels.
What are the views and actions of African post-modern / post colonial feminist thinkers?
Links to activism from other regions – how can we build global solidarity around global targets?
* Contributions are accepted in any form, prose (both theoretical and practical), poetry, narrative, interviews, and visual arts. Submission guideline and further information is below.
The following guidelines are intended to assist authors in preparing their contributions.
Agenda invites contributions from feminist and gender scholars, activists, researchers, policy makers, professionals, educators, community workers, students and members of women’s organizations and organizations interested in and concerned with gender issues.
Submissions should contribute to developing new thinking and fresh debate on women’s rights and gender equality in Africa and other developing countries.
Writers need to:
Write in an accessible and understandable style;
Inform, educate or raise debate;
Try to pin down reasons for contradictions and point out differences of opinion;
Provide an analysis and an argument;
Be sensitive to but not uncritical of how gender, class and race affect the reporting of an event;
Ensure the introduction encapsulates the contents of the piece and that it attracts the reader’s attention by either making a controversial statement, providing a thought-provoking or new insight into the subject;
Utilize a gender or feminist lens.
We publish articles in various formats, which range from 6,000 words for more theorized articles, which form the main reference pieces in an issue, to shorter pieces with a minimum of 1,500 words.
Formats of Contributions
Article (6 000 words max) should be based on new research and contain analysis and argument.
Briefing is an adaptable format for writers to write on a wide range of subjects (2 500 – 4 000 words)
Focus examines an aspect of a chosen theme in detail (4 500 words max)
Profile looks in detail at an organisation, project or legislation, or a person (2 500 – 3 500 words)
Report-back covers reports on meetings, conferences workshops etc
(1 500 – 4 000 words)
Review typically reviews books or films (1 500 – 3 000 words)
Interview can record a conversation among a group of people or a one-on-one interview in which the writer asks the interviewee/s questions on a subject (1 500 – 3 000 words)
Open Forum is a vehicle for debate and argument, or pieces which deal with argument and difference of opinion on a subject/issue (2 500 – 4 000 words)
Perspective is an adaptable format in which writers are able to use a more personal reflective, narrative style (1 500 – 3 000 words)
Contributions should be submitted in the following format:
File type: Microsoft Word
Size: 10 pt
Line spacing: single
Referencing: Harvard style
ALL submissions should have the following:
Abstract: 200 – 300 words
Keywords: approx 5 keywords
Bio: 100 – word author biography, including email address
Bio picture: head-and-shoulders photo in 300 dpi jpeg format
Contributors are encouraged to provide photos and/or graphics to illustrate their submission
Selection and Editing Process
All submissions are peer reviewed. Articles, briefing and focus pieces go through a double blind peer review process, while all other contributions are reviewed by at least one member of Agenda’s Editorial Advisory Group.
Reviewers comment on the suitability of a text for publication in the Agenda journal, as well as provide comments to help develop the piece further for publication if required. Contributors will be asked to rework the paper accordingly.
On resubmission, the piece will be assessed by the Agenda editor and a final decision made regarding its publication in the journal.
Please note that Agenda reserves the right to edit contributions with regard to length and accessibility or reject contributions that are not suitable or of poor standard.
Agenda also invites the submission of poems on the topic of women’s rights and gender.
Please note, as per Agenda’s policy, writers who have published in the journal within the last two years
WILL NOT BE ALLOWED to publish – to allow new writers to publish in Agenda.
African feminisms have, since their inception over a century ago, been grounded in inclusive and intersectional discourses which seek to challenge and unravel patriarchal, political, existential, and philosophical imbalances in society. As such they have been instrumental in bringing into question some of the ‘blind spots’ and prejudices embedded in Western feminisms. In light of current debates on decolonisation and the continued interest in intersectional politics in the global sphere, Finding Africa invites researchers to propose papers which centre on the theme of African feminisms in any field of the humanities.
All submissions should be 250 word abstracts Word formatted document which can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 May 2017.
Areas of interest include (but are not limited to):
The Future of African Feminisms
Black-African-postcolonial feminist creative theorisation and methodologies
Visual Culture Productions and Histories
Visual Arts Praxis and Theories
African Feminist Manifestos
The Psychology of African Feminisms
The Uses of the Erotic
This event is a collaborative effort between the Rhodes University Fine Art and English Departments, together with Finding Africa. The co-organisers are Dr Sharlene Khan, Thando Njovane, and Dr Lynda Spencer.