Jane Plastow: Stiwanism and Gendered Identities in Jinja (Uganda)

We are pleased to announce that Jane Plastow will open our next set of seminars on the theme of African Feminisms with a paper co-authored with Katie McQuaid, the abstract which may be found below.

The seminar will take place on Monday,  13 February 2017 at the Leeds Humanities Research (LHRI) Institute Seminar Room 1 at 5pm. All are welcome and entrance is free.

 

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This paper concerns the ethnographic and theatre-based work of Katie McQuaid and Jane Plastow in a working class district of Jinja, Uganda, over two years between 2014 and 2016. Working in the context of entrenched urban poverty alongside the community we sought to develop understanding of the shifting nature of gendered, intergenerational identities in an East African city and how men, women and youth navigate their daily realities and sustain their future aspirations. We are concerned here to explicate our changing understandings in relation to African and western feminisms, particularly Stiwanism, over the course of the work. 

We explore the relative silencing of women, culturally, educationally and structurally in this community, and how, combining ethnographic research and Frierean-inspired community theatre, we sought to open up spaces in which women felt confidence to participate, at first in single sex spaces,  and later in whole community debate, as equals with their men. The focus of the paper is on how we came to find an engagement with the concept of Stiwanism hugely useful in conceptualising our long term process of working alongside men and women in search of a ‘plentiude of praxis’: strengthening and promoting an urban community’s capacity to unite across social barriers in recognising systemic injustices and inequalities, and challenging these through community-led interventions in pursuit of common social justice outcomes. 

We conclude by raising our on-going issues with Stiwanism in relation to its capacity to envisage how men can be supported in challenging patriarchal practices, and how women can negotiate competing aspects of ethnic identity and modern aspiration, whilst simultaneously resisting essentialist narratives that confine their voices and activity.

About Katie McQuaid and Jane Plastow

Jane Plastow is primarily an Africanist with special interests in African theatre, African literature, education, development studies and politics. She is also concerned with women’s studies in Africa and worldwide with Theatre for Development. She has particularly strong links with East Africa and the Horn of Africa; especially Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, in all of which she has worked in recent years. Plastow also works as a theatre director, usually but not exclusively in the area of African theatre, and teach across a range of courses dealing with contemporary theatrical practice.

Katie McQuaid is an anthropologist currently working on the INTERSECTION project, researching intergenerational justice, environmental responsibility, climate change and sustainability in Uganda, combining social science and arts-based methods (fieldwork Jan-Nov 2015). Her wider work focuses upon violence, humanitarianism and human rights amongst refugees from violent conflict. She conducted two years’ ethnographic fieldwork in Uganda (2011-2012) with refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, considering how violence and human rights are experienced and articulated amongst those living within humanitarian regimes. This research explores the practice of Congolese human rights defenders and the complex persecution and marginalisation of sexual minorities.

Ryan Topper and Thando Njovane on Yvonne Vera

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Yvonne Vera

The next Finding Africa seminar will be two papers on the Zimbabwean author and scholar, Yvonne Vera.

Ryan Topper will present on “Life Beyond the Archive: Yvonne Vera’s The Stone Virgins” and Thando Njovane will give a paper on “Architectures of Voice and Language in Yvonne Vera’s Under the Tongue” at 5.30pm at the University of Leeds’ Humanities Research Institute on 25 November 2015.

*Entrance is free and all are welcome* Continue reading

Arthur Rose on “Dwelling in Triomf; or Building the Infrastructure for Postapartheid Dasein”

triomf The next seminar in the Philosophy and Literature stream of Finding Africa entitled, Dwelling in Triomf; or Building the Infrastructure for Postapartheid Dasein will be given by Dr. Arthur Rose.

Rose recently completed his PhD thesis, Cynical Cosmopolitans? Borges, Beckett, Coetzee, at the University of Leeds. It argued that the integration of politics, aesthetics and subjectivity in the late works of these writers may best be understood through the lens of Ancient Cynicism. He is currently thinking about the thematic and structural use of strike in English, French and Spanish mining literatures.

The seminar will be at 6pm in the BS/008 seminar room of the Berrick Saul Building at the University of York on 8 June 2015. Entrance is free and all are welcome. Continue reading

Brendon Nicholls and his reading of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s “Sozaboy”

Dr. Brendon Nicholls, lecturer in African and Postcolonial literatures at the University of Leeds
Brendon Nicholls, lecturer in African and Postcolonial literatures at the University of Leeds

Finding Africa considers itself fortunate to have had its first seminar inaugurated by Brendon Nicholls and his insightful new reading of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Sozaboy. In bringing together a consideration of environment, psyche and objects, Nicholls was able to argue for the existence, in the text, of an embedded environmental consciousness. The significance of his reading is twofold in its relation to Ken Saro-Wiwa as an activist and figure of resistance, and in respect to Kleinian Object Relations and their applicability to postcolonial African texts.

On the 10 of November 1995 Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by his government along with eight other members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). Sara-Wiwa’s activism had at its heart a concern for his Ogoni people, which in turn led him to lead a protest against the environmental damage to Ogoni lands carried out by the Shell oil company. In what has been considered a landmark victory against global exploitation, Saro-Wiwa’s campaign successfully managed to kick Shell out of the Ogoni region in 1993. The circumstances of Saro-Wiwa’s execution two years later have left little doubt regarding the government’s complicity with corporate exploitation and the price one pays for taking a stand against it. Continue reading

Finding Africa 2016/17 (UK)

African Feminisms

Call for Papers

African feminisms have, from the beginning, been grounded in an inclusive and intersectional discourse which seeks 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.

Accepted submissions from the UK will comprise the lineup of the next round of seminars co-hosted with the University of Leeds’ Centre for African Studies (LUCAS) in 2017. A second call for submissions from South Africa will be made shortly.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

Intersectionality and African Feminisms

Womanism in Contemporary African Feminism

The Future of African Feminisms

Human Rights and African Feminism

African Feminisms and Curricula

Contemporary African Feminisms

African Feminisms in the West

Philosophy and African Feminisms

African Feminist Manifestos

The Psychology of African Feminisms

African Feminist Literature

African Feminisms and Disability

Guide for authors:

All submissions should be 250 word abstracts in Word format emailed to findingpocoafrica@gmail.com  by 20 November 2016.

*For further details on our activities, click on the seminars section on the main menu*

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Brendon Nicholls to speak on Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Sozaboy: Environment, Psyche and Objects

Brendon Nicholls
Dr Brendon Nicholls

We are pleased to announce that Brendon Nicholls will be giving our inaugural seminar on the topic of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Sozaboy: Environment, Psyche and Objects on Wednesday, 29 October 2014.  The event will be at the Treehouse located in the Berrick Saul Building at the University of York at 17:30. This seminar opens the dialogue in the Literature and Psychoanalysis stream of Finding Africa.

Nicholls lectures in the School of English, University of Leeds. He is the author of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Gender, and the Ethics of Postcolonial Reading (Ashgate, 2010) and Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People (Routledge, 2011). He is currently working on a monograph titled Africas of the Mind: Environmental Psychoanalysis and Black Spirit Vernaculars.

Finding Africa: Postcolonial African Studies Seminar Series

tumblr_static_89v5y9ukg64ggc0c8wc0g8kc8Finding Africa: Postcolonial African Studies Seminar Series facilitates interdisciplinary talks by researchers working in the fields of literature, film, history, sociology, politics, women’s studies, anthropology, psychology, and human rights. Although hosted by the University of Leeds’ School of English, the seminar series features academics from York, York St. John, Leeds, Bradford, Durham, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle universities.

Existing partners include the University of Leeds’ Centre for African Studies (LUCAS), the Northern Postcolonial Network (Universities of Salford and Manchester), the University of Manchester’s Postcolonial Reading Group, and the Stellenbosch Literary Project.

The seminar series is committed to providing a platform for researchers and interested others to share knowledge, open up questions, and explore issues relevant to postcolonial Africa. The Finding Africa blog also welcomes contributions from writers, artists, journalists, publishers and others with an abiding interest in Africa and seeks to expand the scope of conversations in the academy.

Finding Africa’s latest partnership with Stellenbosch Literary Project housed within the English Department at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa is the first of many connections which form part of our commitment to building a cross-continental dialogue in and about Africa.