JALA: Text, Paratext, and Context in African Autobiographical Narratives

Deadline: April 30, 2019

For Special Issue: JALA - Journal of the African Literature Association

Editors for the Special Issue:

Tom Odhiambo (University of Nairobi): tom.odhiambo@uonbi.ac.ke or odhiambotom@gmail.com
Godwin Siundu (University of Nairobi): Godwins57@gmail.com or godwin.siundu@uonbi.ac.ke
Inge Brinkman (Ghent University): Inge.Brinkman@UGent.be



Always straddling and dismantling the boundaries between truthfulness and imagination, between memory, concealment and referentiality, between psychology, history, geography and literature, between the individual and the communal, autobiographical narrative invites the audience to (re-)consider the relations between text and context, or text and co-texts.

In its counter-discursive capacity, the postcolonial autobiographical narrative has been especially emphatic in this respect: its critical constellation in the end rests on reference to political practices and hierarchies beyond the text, weaving palimpsestic layers of (counter-)meanings. In this light it is not surprising that many auto/biographers in and of Africa have stressed the importance of realism for their work, and they and their publishers often employ various strategies – in the text, but also in paratextual elements – to enhance the effect of realism as the starting point of meaning-making.

Meanwhile, discussions on autobiographical narratives in and of Africa have over the last decades expanded to include oral genres and artistic performances, life histories, auto-ethnographies, online blogs and Facebook pages, apart from the more classic form of a published book. This begs the question how relations between text and context are established in these more recent forms of autobiography.

In this special issue for JALA we will focus on text, paratext and context in autobiographical narratives from Africa. We welcome papers that deal with African autobiographical narrative in whatever form – published, online, oral, visual, performative and textual –, and in principle from any discipline or from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Possible subthemes for articles within the sphere of African autobiographical narrative may include, but are not limited to:

  • The self, the social and the political
  • History, memory and the literary
  • Self-representation, translation and editorship
  • Power, legitimacy and self-narrative
  • Trauma and testimony
  • Prison life writing
  • Gender, queerness and sexual identities
  • Race, class, and self-assertion
  • Intellectual networks and self-narrative
  • Oral and written self-narratives
  • Visuality, materiality, performance and self-narrative
  • New media and new modes of self-narrative

Please send your paper to the editors of the Special Issue:

tom.odhiambo@uonbi.ac.ke; odhiambotom@gmail.com; Godwins57@gmail.com; godwin.siundu@uonbi.ac.ke; Inge.Brinkman@UGent.be

before the 30th April 2019

while adhering to the style guidelines as detailed under this link:

A typical paper for this journal should be no more than 8000 words, inclusive of tables, references, figure captions, footnotes, endnotes.