CFP: Conference on Recovering Subterranean Archives 2019

Call for Papers 

Recovering Subterranean Archives Conference 

Stellenbosch University

17-18 January 2019

 

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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;
  • Citizenship;
  • 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 wmbao@sun.ac.za and uphalafala@sun.ac.za 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.

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