Rhodes University English Department News

By | August 5, 2019

Rhodes University English Department News

Call For Papers for African Feminisms (Afems) 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency

5-7 September 2019, Wits University, Johannesburg

Organised by the Department of Visual Arts, Wits University and the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University

The third edition of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference will happen from the 5-7 September 2019 at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, in collaboration with the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University.

The 2019 theme is based on Nigerian Stiwanist Molara Ogundipe’s conversation in 2002 with South African black feminist Desiree Lewis in which Ogundipe states:

For me, social ideas should emerge from a consciousness that thinks of what is beneficial to a human being as a person, not because the ideas occurred or are practiced in Europe or America. We need to overcome our endemic inferiority complex towards Europe and things “white,” successfully implanted since our colonial education and through its curricula. We should think from our epicentres of agency, looking for what is meaningful, progressive and useful to us as Africans, as we enrich ourselves with forerunning ideas from all over the world including Europe and America. … I felt that as concerned African women we needed to focus on our areas of concern, socially and geographically. I am concerned with critical and social transformations of a positive nature in Africa, positive meaning, “being concerned with everything that maximises the quality of life of Africans and their potentials too”.

This conversation highlights issues that continue to resonate with black-African-postcolonial feminists in Africa and beyond: lived experience as sites of knowledge; epistemologies tied to geo- specific bodies; long heterogenous world histories that co-exist with indigenous knowledges; cultural seepage; humanistic philosophical stances that refuse the ‘othering’ of Africa(ns) and claim our space and place in world-making; embodied thinking-doing; a plurality of feminisms that respond to the diversity of African women; the centrality of women in decolonial paradigms; an acknowledgement of acts of agency that define Africans on a daily basis; and a good dose of hopefulness for the future. For the 2019 Afems conference, we would like to issue a Call for Presentations around the idea of theorising from the epicentres of our agency, thinking through some of these areas:

  • What defines our epicentres?
  • What are the sites and range of ‘lived experiences’ that we are dealing with as we head towards the change of another decade and a fight back by what bell hooks has termed ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’?
  • What knowledges inform our centering and doing?
  • What does ‘theorising’ mean for black-African women?
  • How do we contest the colonial theory-praxis divide?
  • What role does creativities play in our world-thinking and world-making?
See also  South African Cultural Observatory - Scholarship 
  • ‘Agency’ in Africa has so many connotations including the stereotype of the ‘development agency’. What does it mean ‘to have agency’? Does agency = active? What does it mean to be an agent or to be agentic?
  • How do we create change and organisations from the epicentres of the fields and the grassroots?
  • How does theorising from our geo-specific epicentres disrupt colonial paradigms and rethink decolonial epistemologies?
  • Can there be a centre without margins? Who are our margins as we look out from our epicentres?
  • How can we reach out from our diverse epicentres in our various countries in Africa across Anglophone/Lusophone/Francophone divides to each other and to sisters across the seas to have global conversations that respond to not only the global eco-capitalist crisis we are in, but to enrich the terrain of the human experiences we share?

    Afems 2019 welcomes presentations from all scholarly disciplines and fields including paper presentations, conversations, themed convened panels, creative interventions and displays, book launches, video screenings, performances, self- and group-care sessions. Paper and creative presentations are limited to 20 minutes, proposed panels and video screenings to 1 and a half hours.

    Send an abstract of your proposed presentation to: afrifems17@gmail.com. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and should contain a title, your full name, affiliation, email address and mobile number.

    The deadline for all proposals will be: 31 March 2019.
    We will confirm acceptance of your presentation by no later than 15 May 2019.

    As always, all sessions are free and open to the university and general public. However, a registration fee of R500 will be charged to participants to cover the printing of the programme, drinks and meals (students can apply for a discounted rate of R250). Registration fees will have to be paid in advance of the conference and are non-refundable.

    The African Feminisms (Afems) Conference is hosted by the Art on our Mind research project run by Prof Sharlene Khan (Wits University) and the Urban Connections and Popular Imaginaries in Africa (UCAPI) research project run by Dr Lynda Spencer (Rhodes University).

    For more information, please contact Prof Khan or Dr Spencer on afrifems17@gmail.com.