Call for Papers 2012

Call for Papers

University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, Free State Province, South Africa

7-10 November 2012

From Resistance to Creative Mediation:

Writing and Literary Intellectuals’ Influence on the Liberation Struggles and Political Impact on Literary Discourse and Developments


The wRite associates, in partnership with the University of the Free State, invite the submission of abstracts for individual papers and panels for the 2012 Africa Century International African Writers Conference. The Conference will take place during the 21st anniversary of the International African Writers’ Day, the aim of which is to “afford the African people a moment of pause within which to reflect on the contribution of African Writers to the development of the Continent” (OAU Conference of African Ministers of Education and Culture, 1991).


This conference aims to bring together writers, academics, as well as intellectual and cultural workers from around the globe to celebrate a century of literary and cultural production across the Continent and Diaspora. The commemoration of major milestones in African history – such as the 100th anniversary of Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress – offers important opportunities for critical reflection on the personal, social and political trajectories that yielded significant decolonising gains across the Continent and the Diaspora. Yet the risk that attends these commemorative projects is that the spectacular will be privileged over the ordinary, or that dominant, one-sided accounts of social transformation and resistance will be favoured over the perspectives of those who occupy the margins of colonial, anti-colonial and post-colonial historiographies.


Africa’s literary and cultural workers have always been in a unique position to straddle this tension between the extraordinary and the ordinary, the mono- and the multi-perspectival. The work of creative mediation done in literary and other cultural texts has the unique capacity to grapple with contradiction, nuance, uncertainty, and even failure as it recasts larger political shifts and spectacular scenes of social upheaval through the lenses of experiential interiorities and imaginaries.


As we look back on a century of African imaginative production, we hope to generate an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary dialogue on both the historical and future role of literary and other cultural texts in making sense of day-to-day life in contexts of colonialism, imperialism, anti-colonial resistance, post-colonialism, neo-colonialism, civil war, neo-liberal globalisation, and ecological destruction, to name but a few. We are interested in papers that celebrate both canonical and marginalised writers from across the Continent and African Diaspora, as well as in papers that expand the scope of critical analysis beyond the conventionally ‘literary’.


Areas of inquiry may include, but are not limited to, the following sub-themes and questions, particularly in their relation to resistance and mediation as the two pillars of output of African and Diaspora writers over the past century:


 Historical landmarks of the twentieth century in literature:


Celebrating a century of writing and literary intellectuals’ influence on the liberation struggle & political impact on literary discourse & developments

Resistance, liberation/emancipation and creative mediation of identities:

Xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia; race and epistemologies of ignorance, class and the ‘post-transitional’; feminism/ womanism, gender and sexuality in African literature and film; the figure of the child in African literature/film.


Media for dialogue and resistance:

Oral traditions and folklore; African life-writing, memoires and (auto)biographies; memory and memorialisation.


Citizenship, globalisation and the African nation-state in the making

National liberation struggles and African literature/film; citizenship and mobility past and present; African literature and the African Diaspora; mediating violence, trauma and civil war; biopolitics past and present; the continuities and discontinuities of pan-Africanisms and other narratives; climate change.


Language, culture and power:

Translation and intercultural contact; language debates; censorship of/in African literature and other forms of artistic/cultural production; contested literacies; and power, co-optation and the digital divide.


Becoming, belonging and acknowledging:

Writers’ organisations, protection, promotion of authors’ rights; and acknowledgement of writers’ contribution and excellence.


This Conference is part of the context of the AFRICA CENTURY LITERARY ART AND ORATURE: CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS CONVERSATIONS SERIES, which started off at the 6th Annual South African Literary Awards, Sedibeng Council Banquet Hall, Vereeniging and the National Library of South Africa on 8th December 2011 and 30th March 2012, respectively. These lectures were presented by the Chairperson of the ANC Centenary Celebrations National Task Team, Ms Baleka Mbete (delivered on her behalf by Mr. Themba Wakashe, CEO of the ANC Centenary Celebrations National Task Team) and Prof. Mbulelo Mzamane, respectively.


Please submit a 300 word proposal, along with a short biographical note to: Prof. Heidi Hudson at: by 17th August, 2012.


Notification of acceptance of abstracts: throughout until 31 August 2012


Programme finalised: 14 September 2012


Registration opens: 13 August 2012

For any other conference-related queries, please contact: Ms Sindiswa Seakhoa at: or visit: