Libya’s Trapped African Migrants: A Case of Postmodern Slavery

Libya

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.

libya-810x456

Abstract

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’. The 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 

NadiaNcubeNolwazi 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).

Advertisements

Re-thinking Sunjata: Epics and Epistemology in West African Oral Narratives

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.

mansa-musa-604

Abstract

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

bulmanStephen 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.

Final Call: 2nd Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation International Conference 2018

Finding Africa

NEST logo2nd Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST) International Conference

22-24 March 2018

University of the Witwatersrand

Keynote Speakers

51Hhdp4PAYL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_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.

regarding_muslimslr-180x260Gabeba 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,

View original post 543 more words

CFP Theorising Africa: Reviewing a History of Ideas

Finding Africa

21314649_1471303176288228_2685142725548250835_n

CALL FOR PAPERS

Theorising Africa: Reviewing a History of Ideas

University of Leeds

Seminar Series 2018

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…

View original post 249 more words

Final Call: 2nd Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation International Conference 2018

NEST logo2nd Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST) International Conference

22-24 March 2018

University of the Witwatersrand

 

Keynote Speakers

 

51Hhdp4PAYL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_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.

 

regarding_muslimslr-180x260Gabeba 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

Conference Theme

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.

Research Threads

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.
  • Intergenerational narratives.
  • 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.

Please send abstracts of up to 300 words for individual papers and / or panels by 15 October 2017 to the conveners at Jill.Bradbury@wits.ac.za and Bhekizizwe.Peterson@wits.ac.za

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.

NIHSS logoWITS-logo-full-colour-600x300

To Have Seven Thousand Vaginas and None at All: Bessie Head’s Radical Visions of Sex and Gender

bessie_head_-_picture_credit_-_george_hallettThe next seminar in our African Feminisms series will be a paper entitled “To Have Seven Thousand Vaginas and None at All: Bessie Head’s Radical Visions of Sex and Gender” to be delivered by Elinor Rooks on 23 March 2017 at 5pm in the LHRI Seminar Room 1.

The seminar will be chaired by Prof Jane Plastow and it is both free and open to all.

Abstract

Bessie Head is the author of several texts which, for their interrogation of gender relations, might be taken as epitomes of African feminist writing. Head, however, repeatedly insisted that she was not a feminist and that hers were not feminist texts. “Writing is not a male/female occupation,” she explained. “I do not have to be a feminist. The world of the intellect is impersonal, sexless.” In this paper, I will explore this apparent contradiction, showing the ways in which Head’s work exposes the problems of African feminism, while anticipating later developments towards womanism and intersectional feminism.

Not only does Head move beyond the fundamentally white articulations of gender offered by feminism of the time, creating a concretely, particularly African perspective on sex and gender, she also goes much further, towards a fundamental questioning not only of gender but of sex.

In A Question of Power, Head takes the gender binary to its extremes, presenting monstrous exaggerations not only of masculinity and femininity, but also of sex: from the towering phallus to the seven thousand molten vaginas, she presents genitals as almost disembodied grotesques. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is said not to have a vagina at all. It is in this context, I will argue, that we can glimpse the truly radical and queer implications of Head’s “sexless” writing. Exploring both the homophobia and queer desire within this text, I will demonstrate the ways in which Head’s writing not only drives towards an African feminism, but also gestures towards a queer and genderqueer African feminism.

About Elinor Rooks

Photo on 25-09-2015 at 13.12 #3Elinor Rooks is an indepedent 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.