CFP: RAL Special Issue on Biafra and the Literary Imagination

Posted on Jan 31, 2017

Research in African Literatures Special Issue Guest Editors: Cilas Kemedjio and Anthonia Kalu On May 30, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwumeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the South Eastern Region’s military governor, proclaimed the creation of the Republic of Biafra at a champagne party in the city of Enugu, the first capital of the secessionist region. On January 9, 1970, Ojukwu handed over power to Chief of General Staff Major-General Philip Effiong. He fled the country and was granted asylum in Côte d’Ivoire. The Republic of Biafra would formally come to an end a few days later with the surrendering of its military leader in Lagos. For the millions fleeing for their safety, the Republic of Biafra was a legitimate defense against aggression. Seen from the point of view of persecuted Igbos and citizens from the Eastern Region, Biafra was a humanitarian citadel designed to shield its beleaguered residents from the abuses they suffered in Nigeria. However, to Lagos—then the capital of the Nigerian Federation—the proclamation of the Republic of Biafra represented an unjustified rupture of the national compact. It was an insurrection against the authority of the central government and national sovereignty. The war engaged by the federal government again the Republic of Biafra was therefore a deployment of legitimate violence to subdue the rebels and reestablish the authority of the state within its internationally recognized boundaries. The war that ensued was the result of these conflicting readings of the secession. Whether we agree or not with one of these competing legal or ethical viewpoints, we must acknowledge that this war was a devastating human tragedy for the people who lived in the Republic of Biafra. According to the January 1970 issue of Time magazine that covered “the end of the rebellion,” as many as two million Biafrans perished during the war with another 1,250,000 were pushed to the brink of starvation. Despite the magnitude of the humanitarian disaster, unresolved controversies surrounding the war have continued to make conversations about the Nigerian civil war difficult. Writers and poets such as Chinua Achebe, Flora Nwapa, Christopher Okigbo, and Buchi Emecheta lived through the war as active participants, citizens, or activists. The subsequent generation’s stories, such as Chimamanda Ngozie Achidie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, record another understanding of the tragedy. Creative writers largely embrace an uncompromising stance for our shared humanity. In this process, they repudiate both the directives of the Propaganda Directorate of the Republic of Biafra and the absolutist, if devastating, claim of national sovereignty, challenge the uneasy conflation of humanitarianism, politics, and the military, and make a bold stance for human dignity. By focusing on the banality of life in these moments of distress, these writers convey to the world...

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CFP: La Bande dessinée africaine francophone. Musée(s) du Contemporain.

Posted on Jan 30, 2017

Revue en ligne : Mouvances francophones Numéro spécial : La Bande dessinée africaine francophone. Musée(s) du Contemporain. Existe-t-il une bande dessinée africaine, qui plus est francophone ? Poser une telle énigme revient à indexer deux notions qui s’avèrent également à l’œuvre dans le locus discursif et historiographique du roman africain francophone : la notion de champ chère à Pierre Bourdieu et celle d’une esthétique qui serait authentiquement africaine ; en bande dessinée, on parlerait plutôt de graphisme. Si pour Massimo Repetti, qui analyse les pratiques scénariographiques africaines allant du sud-africain Conrad Botes au congolais Barly Baruti, les « African comics as homogenous entity probably does not exist. It is perhaps more accurate to speak of ‘‘comics from Africa’’ interest which has taken concrete form in various exhibitions and international festivals, as well as in the publications of comics albums and academic research » (Repetti, 2007) ; Hilaire Mbiyé, pour sa part, postule que « la BD africaine est une réalité et non un mythe, […] elle se lit, se vend, et […] elle existe sous différents formats » (Mbiyé, 2009). Le premier pose un « cosmopolitanism » tant thématique que graphique quand le deuxième relève les dynamiques symboliques, institutionnelles et sociales qui configurent « des œuvres méritant d’être cataloguées comme une expression authentiquement africaine. » On le voit, parler d’une bande dessinée africaine francophone est loin d’être aisé. Et une occurrence emblématique de cet écueil herméneutique est la série Aya de Yopougon de l’ivoirienne Marguerite Abouet et du bédéiste français Clément Oubrerie, récipiendaire du Prix du premier album au Festival d’Angoulême, en 2006. Succès critique et populaire, cette œuvre sérielle porte en son sein les principaux obstacles à une approche essentialiste du fait scénariographique africain : machine — au sens de Jacques Rancière — de la mimésis spatiale, poïétique transculturelle (l’hybridité culturelle de la genèse de/à l’œuvre), une édition française (dans la collection Bayou des éditions Gallimard) qui tendrait à inscrire cette série dans le champ de la bande dessinée franco-belge... Procès similaire pour la série Eva K de Barly Baruti et Franck Giroud. Toutefois à une telle pratique transculturelle, pourraient être opposée à des œuvres telles que l’hebdomadaire Gbich !, le Gorgorlou de TT Fons ou encore les planches de Papa Mfumu’eto 1er qui s’inscrivent dans le giron du populaire et connaissent une production ainsi qu’une distribution locale. Dès lors, la mention « Musée(s) du contemporain », pour désigner la bande dessinée africaine francophone, a l’avantage d’opérer sur deux surfaces. Une première surface qui serait une archéologie du regard qui exhumer, montrer et monter les images des sociétés africaines, de leurs pratiques culturelles et de leurs crises du passé et de l’avenir. La deuxième surface, quant à...

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CFP: Cartographies of War and Peace in Eastern Africa

Posted on Dec 15, 2016

The 3rd Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies (EALCS) Conference University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 24th-26th August, 2017 Theme: Cartographies of War and Peace in Eastern Africa Call for Papers The Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies Conference Series brings together artists, media practitioners, literary and cultural studies scholars, students and teachers interested in scholarship in and on the Eastern African region. This conference is the 3rd in the series, building on the August 2015 conference held at Makerere University, Kampala, and before that, the inaugural conference held at the University of Nairobi, in September 2013. This year’s conference theme Cartographies of War and Peace in Eastern Africa invites participants to reflect on literary, media and cultural engagements with peace and conflict in the region. Eastern Africa—pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence—has been a region marked by shifting configurations of peace and conflict, resulting from different policy and political frictions in the region. Beyond periods of warfare and violent conflict, even peaceful nations in the region have had to bear the brunt of the structural violence of poverty, economic and political marginalization unleashed by problematic macro-economic and political policies. We invite literary, cultural and broadly interdisciplinary meditations on war and peace in Eastern Africa; through an engagement with key historical moments and policies in the region, including, but not limited to: slavery and early European struggles to control the Indian ocean, the two world wars, the Zanzibar revolution; the rise and fall of Ujamaa; the Kagera war; Structural Adjustments Policies (SAPs) and their impacts on everyday life; the Africanisation policies and Asian expulsions; the 1994 Rwanda genocide; the Lord’s Resistance Army and its activities in Uganda; post-election violence in Kenya; the historic 2015 elections campaign in Tanzania (mainland and Zanzibar); the Al-Shabaab phenomenon; the Darfur crisis; the South Sudanese conflicts; Somalia’s conflicts; the Ethiopian revolution; the Eritrean military encounters; and the recent Burundi crisis, among other landmark moments in the region’s histories. The 3rd EALCS, therefore, invites papers that explore how historical, cultural and political borders and maps have shifted as a result of these incidences and how new allies have emerged thus the new cultural and political cartographies. Topics include but are not limited to: Politics of identity including aspects of ethnicity, religion, or race. Violence, migration and exile. Language and Culture. Genres and trends in narratives of conflict Eco-critical readings of resource competitions Sexuality Popular arts New Media narrative engagements Autobiographical reflections on conflict African language literatures on peace and conflict Refugees, dislocation and displacement Human rights and Justice Representations of peace and militarism We invite abstracts (of no longer than 250 words) for papers that engage with the above topics and related concerns. We...

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CFP: JALA Special Issue on ALA 2016 Conference Theme

Posted on Nov 11, 2016

We hereby invite conference participants and others to send us article-length essays on the ALA 2016 conference theme, “Justice and Human Dignity in Africa and the African Diaspora,” for consideration for the Journal of the African Literature Association. The 2016 ALA conference was held in Atlanta, GA, USA, 6-9 April 2016. Essays should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words; using MLA format for layout and citation. Please send your essays electronically to Lucie Viakinnou-Brinson <> as Word documents. If you submit your essay for consideration in this volume, please do not submit it elsewhere at the same time—double submission is not allowed. Essays should reach us by 31 January 2017. As reminder, please find the conference theme description here. Lucie Viakinnou-Brinson & MaryEllen Higgins...

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CFP: African Cultural Production and the Rhetoric of Humanism

Posted on Nov 1, 2016

The French social philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, in his book Being Singular Plural, (2000) posits that existence is inherently co-existence. This deeply humanistic vision of social relations resonates with the traditional African philosophy of life which, in a nutshell, boils down to: ‘I am because we are, and because we are therefore I am.’ (Cobbah, 1987). The spirit of hospitality, community, respect for human beings and even for objects exemplifies this approach to life. According to Léopold Sédar Senghor, one of the founding fathers of the Négritude movement, this aspect of African culture is a key aspect of black peoples’ contribution to the architecture of a “Universal Civilization” (Liberté 1. Négritude et humanisme, 1964). At the second conference of Black Artists and Writers held in Rome in 1959, Senghor argued for the centrality of human beings in all artistic creation and appealed to African artists and writers to produce works that deal with the quotidian realities and challenges of African people. As evidenced by its rich corpus, the primary focus of cultural production in traditional and modern African societies is the longing for the emergence of communities whose daily praxis is driven by the principles of social justice, peace and dignity. The changing conditions in African countries due to multi-party democracies, corruption, civil unrest, famine, natural disasters, disease, poverty, social inequities and wars, have given rise to new discourses informed by this ideal. Furthermore, the emergence of information technologies has also enabled new artistic dimensions in the continent’s cultural production and artists of all disciplines have crafted their works to fit these new realities while placing the rhetoric of humanism at their core. Yet very few cultural and literary critics have explored this interminable quest for humanistic societies in an extensive manner. We invite interested scholars to submit essays analyzing African cultural production through a critical examination of the discursive strategies and frameworks in which the question of humanism is dealt with in any one or more of the following art forms: literature, cinema, video games, performing arts, painting, sculpture, photography, cartoon and music. Essays for the collection will be between 6000 and 6500 words long including notes. Ideas for proposals could be based on (but not limited to) any of the topics below: Women’s Status Children’s and Minority Rights Religion and Traditional Rites Systems of Justice (Im)Migration and the Refugee Question Power, Violence and Governance War and Trauma Gender and Sexuality The Environment Humanitarian Aid (Neo)Colonial Relations Humanistic Discourses in Africa and the African Diaspora Please send your proposal in a Word or Word-compatible document of approximately 300 words in English via an email attachment to the editors Lifongo Vetinde ( and Jean-Blaise Samou ( not later than January...

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CFP: Workshopping Approaches to Race, Racism, and Racialization in Ethnographic Examinations of China-Africa and South-South Encounters

Posted on Sep 27, 2016

January 13, 2017 New York University The spectre of race haunts the China-Africa moment. A consequence of the steady stream of sensational stories about South-South interactions is the realization of W.E.B Du Bois’s observation that “crossings of the global color line make for anxious investigations.” The historian Jamie Monson argues that the study of “China-Africa” has become a “hot” topic precisely because the expansion of Chinese capital and migration to Africa (and vice versa) has disturbed implicit racial geographies and global hierarchies of value. Surprisingly however,  critical or intersectional perspectives on race have been limited in the emerging field of China-Africa studies. Political economists and ethnographers have frequently gestured towards issues of race, racism and racialization in African-Chinese interactions (or talked around it in terms of culture, language, ethnicity etc.), but a sustained in-depth, critical, and reflexive conversation is needed.  Instead, we have seen a pattern of impassioned apologetic or polemic responses that follow periodic “racist scandals” which appear in international media reporting on the topic. These scandals, ranging from a restaurant in Nairobi that banned black patrons after sunset, to a Chinese laundry detergent ad that recycled the trope of “washing” a black man into whiteness, have frequently become focal points in a predominantly “West-East” narrative of comparative racisms originating in the global North.  These scandals have been simultaneously interpreted as either tokens of “deep-seated” Chinese racisms or hypocritical “Western” media constructions or misinterpretations. These debates touch on the very definition of “racism” and its use in the discussion of global inequalities, discourses, and practices, both in the context of a “rising” global South and the lingering inequalities of the “West and the rest.” Missing from these discussions, however, have been the insights that ethnographic approaches could offer, or a critical stance on the positionality of experiences and claims about race, racialization, and racism. On January 13, 2017, we will gather at New York University to move beyond periodic scandals and grapple with the concepts of race, racialization, and racism more broadly within the context of China-Africa or South-South interactions. We invite up-and-coming scholars who are wrestling with these issues, particularly in Chinese-African connections, but also in transnational Afro-Asian, and South-South formations more generally. What we are seeking is not so much completed or polished work, but rather thinkpieces, reflections, and works in progress which evince attempts to think through these issues. We especially welcome scholars who have conducted (or plan to conduct) ethnographic fieldwork or in-depth historical research. The aim of the workshop is to promote a conversation which we hope will both sharpen critical approaches to race in the study of China-Africa, and also contribute to the anthropology of race more broadly. We hope to address...

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