Crossings and Comparisons in African Literary and Cultural Studies
Humboldt University, Berlin, October 8-12, 2018
In the past decades, African literary and cultural productions have predominantly explored the notions of duality, binarity, hybridity, alterity, in varied dimensions; centre-periphery, colonised-coloniser, orality–written literature etc., triggered by historical landmarks like slavery, colonialism, postcolonialism, and migration. Cultural productions and theoretical debates have, validly, not only echoed the complexities of these times with regards to ethnicity, class, gender, but have also critiqued the repercussions of these indelible historical moments and movements on language, culture, identity, local and diaspora communities, and individual/collective memory. However, much of the work that has been done, so far, still puts African literatures and cultural productions in regional and linguistic boxes. There is an evident lack in comparative research that would open up new critical horizons from the perspective of cross-language, cross-regional and cross-theoretical studies. Therefore, this workshop aims to move beyond the trend of comparing African literatures within the realms of just one language (Francophone, Lusophone, Anglophone, Arabic and the diverse Afriphone literatures) to inspire a comparative scholarship of African literatures that cuts across all languages and regions of the continent, including the traditional, yet artificial ‘boundary’ of the Sahara. There is an urgent need to put different schools of thinking and paradigms of literary theory into dialogue in order to advance African literary and cultural studies. The major aim of the workshop is, therefore, to cross over language barriers, regional settings, disciplines and theories.
We invite scholars and PhD students from our African partner universities in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Togo as well as colleagues/PhD students based in Berlin to take up the challenge and contribute reflections on cultural production in more than one language, on hermeneutic dualities and multiplicities in African literatures, theatre, cinema and performance arts. A critical assessment of ideological, theoretical, aesthetic, thematic and linguistic models that invoke categories of difference, but also similarities, should be highlighted in ways that they could possibly be put in conversation with one another and critically evaluated across genres and disciplines.
The workhop is sponsored by HU-Berlin’s Kosmos programme and with further support by IAAW and KSBF. Speakers include guests from the universities of Nairobi, Ibadan, Stellenbosch, Lomé, Hannover, Mainz and FU Berlin.