These Calls for Proposals (CFPs) are for presentations to be considered for inclusion on member-organized panels at the upcoming ALA conference. If you would like your paper to be considered for a panel, please submit your proposal to the panel organizer according to individual CFP instructions. Please also direct all questions to panel organizers, not to the ALA.


The Sahara and Identity

The Sahara in literature, film, visual arts, and spiritual traditions has played fundamental roles in identities ranging from the individual to the group to the national and even the pan-national.

This panel welcomes proposals on the Sahara and Identity including the following: African literature on (or including) the Sahara; literal or metaphorical uses of the Sahara; Saharan travel literature of any source; cartography, landscape, and identity; visual arts and the Sahara; film and the Sahara; movement-mobility and identity including migration to Europe, migration among Saharan countries, nomadism, transhumant pastoralism, sedentism, oasis life, trucking, caravans, and effects of the Sahara on movement in the Sahel; tourism and identity in the Sahara; gender-race-ethnicity-class-sexuality and identity in the Sahara; history and Saharan identities; community and Saharan “identity spaces”; slavery and the Sahara; peace and/or violence and the Sahara; imperialism; neoliberalism; the Sahara and Pan-Africanism; the Sahara in a global context; religion-spirituality and the Sahara; wellness and the Sahara; Nature and identity in the Sahara; “Saharan music”; micro- or macro-ethnographic studies on people living in or around the Sahara; the Sahara as relevant to any of the specific themes of the 2017 ALA conference.

Please submit your paper title and short (200-300 word) description by 10 November 2016 to Kevin Hickey at

Papers accepted for this panel will be invited to submit for a special (2018) “Sahara and Identity” issue of CELAAN.


Redeeming Ethnography

At last year’s conference in Atlanta, then-president of the ALA, Moradewun Adejunmobi, introduced keynote speaker Chris Abani by praising his writing, remarking that it is “not anthropology passed off as literature.” Her remarks reflect African literary studies’ long history of mistrust of anthropology. Yet as more and more scholars trained in literary studies move into the broader field of cultural studies, leaving libraries to do “fieldwork,” we need to come to terms with the anthropological tool of ethnography. Can ethnography be divorced from the colonial legacy of anthropology? Might approaches to ethnography that gesture toward “literary ethnography” be a way forward? I invite papers that consider these questions theoretically and/or that offer practical illustrations of how ethnographic research and writing might be fruitful approaches to the study of African literatures and expressive cultures.

Send paper abstracts of no more than 250 words to Katrina Daly Thompson, Professor of African Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Deadline: 1 November 2016.


South African Narratives in the World Context

This panel addresses the conference theme on the use value of “world literature” for African literatures by approaching the topic within a comparative framework. Scholarship in Comparative Literature has used literary texts from Africa, including South Africa, for the purpose of a range of topics such as resistance literature, magical realist allegory, nationalist imaginings, and third world identifications. The panel seeks papers that follow the development of South African narratives, with special reference to the novel, within the overarching, if misleading, umbrella of the “world” novel as a genre.

Interdisciplinary comparisons are also welcome. The panel is open to interpretations of its title. Some areas that might be explored: (a) the historical antecedents of the novel in epic, folklore, and performance, (b) feminist transformations in the form of the novel, (c) specificity of modernism in the context of the novel, (d) relationship between the novel and other narrative arts, including the cinema, the photograph, narrative painting, (e) meta-critical commentary on criticism of the South African novel, (f) specificity of differences between the South African novel and the African novel.

Please send your proposal to: by November 1. All inquiries encouraged.

Panel proposal submitted by Geetha Ramanathan, Professor of Comparative Literature, West Chester University


Tropes of Urbanity: Imagining African Urban Spaces Across Media

Largely as the result of domestic and transnational population movements, African societies have experienced rapid urbanization, altering the continent’s demographic interface.  As White et al. observe, “the number of urban agglomerations in sub-Saharan Africa with more than one million people has grown from one to more than twenty-five” since 1950(61). This process of urbanization is immensely heterogeneous and not only are large urban centers such as Accra, Nairobi or Lagos growing at an enormous rate; the number of rural localities re-classified as urban has increased. Additionally, the expansion of urban space into the countryside and the development of peri-urban areas is complicating older notions of what constitutes a village and a city.

These developments have been accompanied by a growing number of artistic and scholarly reflections exploring Africa’s cities as important centers of global modernity and innovation, while simultaneously drawing attention to the challenges connected to rapid urban growth. Increasingly, a “traditionalist” perspective which sees cities as “Western” implants is abandoned in favor of an attempt to understand the specifics of African urbanities and their role in the contemporary global city experience. This round table seeks to bring together current research on the ways African urbanities are imagined and explored in different avenues and media – literature, scholarship, film, music, the visual arts, online.If you are interested in being a speaker at the roundtable please send us a short bio and an abstract (of not more than one page) highlighting your topic and your main line of argumentation. We envision brief stimulating contributions (approx. 10 – 15 minutes each) on a focused research question to be followed by an engaging discussion with the audience. Theoretical considerations on what it means to speak of African cities/urban spaces are also welcome. Send your submissions to both email addresses below by November 1, 2016:

  1. Deborah Nyangulu (University of Münster):
  2. Magdalena Pfalzgraf (Goethe University Frankfurt):

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by November 7.


Topographies of Sound and Music in African film

FVM sponsored panel

Films convey meaning with both visual and acoustic images. The complex interplay of image and sound highlights the overall experience of watching-hearing a film: speech, sound effects, music and soundtracks are inextricably linked to the visual experience, yet they are seldom analyzed on their own in African film aesthetic approaches.
This call for papers would like to invite contributions that focus on sound and music, as well as the aesthetic contribution and possibilities of sound in African filmmaking for a panel proposal entitled “Topographies of sound and music in African film.” This is a FVM (Film, Visual, Media) caucus sponsored panel.

Suggested topics that would interact with the main ALA 2017 conference theme “Literature, Politics, and Global Geographies” include but are not limited to:

  • African film and the aesthetics of sound
  • soundscape/landscape
  • voice-over in documentary/film narrative and the politics of sound
  • music, sound, space, and time
  • sound and image experimentation
  • sound and global connectivity
  • ‘silent’ African films in the era of sound

Please send your abstracts up to 250 words, and an indication of any requests for A/V equipment by November 5, 2016 to Julie Papaioannou at


The ALA Executive Committee's sub-committee on "Issues and Human Rights" invites paper proposals with abstracts of 300 words for either of the 2 following panels:

1) Migrant Crises Across the Oceans: Discourses and Perceptions in Africa and Europe

This panel proposes to excavate the human cost of migrations often with devastating outcomes in recent memory, i.e. the many deaths in the Mediterranean. We welcome discussions on discourses and representation of Africans in literary, visual popular, or performative media on perceptions to this crises in Africa and in Europe.

2) Student Human Rights in Selected African Regions.

We propose to cover human rights violations in terms of curricular, financial, and other issues that negatively impact students' lives in their academic pursuits. We hope to cover different regions of the African continent including recent student movements (#feesmustfall) in South Africa, and other areas such as Cameroon, Kenya, Sierra Leone among others.

Please send abstracts to Professor Tsitsi Jaji at


The Refugee in African Literature

This panel focuses on the African refugee narrative and its role within a current global climate that actively responds and/or fails to respond to the ongoing refugee crisis. Refugee literature plays a role in facilitating necessary discussions on the refugee experience while writing back at negative characterizations of refugees promulgated by fear-mongers. Of primary concern to this panel are questions of what constitutes an African refugee narrative and how does it align with, challenge, respond to and/or shape a more global refugee narrative?

This panel welcomes proposals on (but is not limited to) the African refugee narrative and:

  • its relationship to the global refugee crisis
  • its influence on immigration policies and the popular imagination of refugees
  • its status in the African literary canon
  • its relationship to immigrant narratives
  • support and aid
  • depictions of the body, injury, disease, mobility
  • genre overlap (e.g. child soldier narratives)
  • theoretical frameworks that enable a sustained meditation on the figure of the African refugee

Please submit your paper title and abstract (200-300 words) by December 5, 2016 (new deadline) to Alexander Dawson at

Women's Caucus of the ALA (WOCALA) Calls for Papers

1) Mothers, Daughters & Gendered Violence

This panel seeks papers on how gendered violence caused by wars can strengthen or disrupt the bonds between mothers and daughters, or mother-surrogates and daughters. Consider as well how women are affected by the violence resulting from the barriers that national boundaries create. Abstracts may incorporate works from fiction as well as non-fictional texts.
Please submit abstracts no later than November 14, 2016 to:

2) African Feminism in 21st Century World Politics

This panel explores how the formation of African feminism has shaped/ is shaping world politics and global geographies in the Twenty-first century. Abstracts may incorporate works from fiction as well as non-fictional texts.

Please submit abstracts no later than November 14, 2016 to:


African Films and Global Analytical Frameworks

The African Literature Association’s Film, Visual, Media caucus invites contributions that focus on African films and global analytical frameworks. This panel considers the inquiries of the ALA’s conference theme in contexts of African screen media. Suggested papers may offer, for example:

*an investigation, challenge, or contemplation of frameworks such as “world cinema” or “cinema of the Global South”—How do African films/African screen media (re)imagine or mediate “the world”? What has become of cosmopolitanism/Afropolitanism in African films?

*an examination of how African films/screen media address “the ongoing implications for the continent of global analytical frameworks, including those used to think about urbanization, gender and sexuality, public health, politics, regional identities, and the environment.” Paper might also examine how African films engage with global analytical frameworks that address migration, trauma, disability, aesthetics, genre, etc.

This is a FVM (Film, Visual, Media) caucus sponsored panel. Please send your abstracts of up to 300 words, and an indication of any requests for A/V equipment by November 10, 2016 to MaryEllen (Ellie) Higgins at


Queer Theory in African Fiction and Film

How are African literatures and cultures mediating globalizing frameworks for gender and sexuality and shifting understandings of “queer”? From ‘Woubi Cheri and Dakan’ to ‘Stories of Our Lives’, African film has begun this conversation. Similarly, scholars are increasingly turning a “queer eye” on classics of African literature, offering helpful re-reading of texts that open up the positioning of formerly erased sexualities as part of the heritage, in all its complexities, of contemporary sexual expression among Africans on the continent, and abroad.

Send abstracts to panel co-chairs by December 5, 2016

John C. Hawley, Department of English, Santa Clara University (

Ernest N. Emenyonu, Editor, African Literature Today
Department of Africana Studies, University of Michigan-Flint (


The Evolution and Development of the Novel in African Languages: A Continental Survey

The novel in Africa predated European advent in Africa, and remarkably flourished in some very significant languages, yet hardly have there been full-scale studies on its evolution and history in individual African indigenous languages. This panel calls for papers on the history of the novel in specific indigenous African languages focusing on its evolution, development trends, thematic concerns, characterizations, narrative forms and techniques, readership and critical receptions. Studies on the novel in such languages as Akan, Ewe, Amharic, Efik, Ibibio, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Wolof, Zulu, Shona, Ndebele, Xhosa, Oromo, Swahili, Tigrinya, Kikuyu etc, will be particularly welcome. A short bibliography of published novels, if available, will be helpful but not mandatory.

Send paper abstracts by December 8, 2016 to:
Ernest N. Emenyonu, Department of Africana Studies, University of Michigan-Flint