CFP: The Politics of African Literature: Writers, Activists and Intellectuals Journal of Pan-African Studies (JPAS)

The Politics of African Literature: Writers, Activists and Intellectuals Journal of Pan-African Studies (JPAS)
Guest editors: Heather DuBois Bourenane and Mukoma Wa Ngugi

The Journal of Pan-African Studies (JPAS) invites papers for a special issue on Politics and African Literature. This issue will explore how writers create, address and interrogate Pan-African solidarities through works of fiction, poetry, prose and other communication arts.  There’s nothing particularly unique about the political nature of much African literature; all literature is political in some way as it attempts to mediate and examine the realities of everyday life through various artistic media. But African literature is unique, perhaps, in being rather singularly held to a political standard; our expectations that African writers seek to confront inequities, expose corruption, reflect on historical ills, etc, colors the way we read, and the way we think about the role of African writers as agents of social transformation.  This issue will address various aspects of the relationship between writing and politics, including (but not limited to):
*       What is the role of postcolonial African writer? To what audience(s) does the Pan African writer appeal? What tensions complicate or liberate the relationship between form and content in African literature?  When are national, religious, ethnic, linguistic and other categories useful in constructing solidarity with one’s readers and when are they problematic?
*       Who is an African writer?  In what ways does the term African literature as a category ghettoize or liberate?  What is “African literature” today? To what extent can it be considered an expression of Pan African solidarity? Is such a move essentializing or productive?
*       Are aesthetics and the political novel mutual exclusive?  What is the role of the literary critic in the appreciation of African literature?
*       What are the continuities and discontinuities between the older and younger generation of African writers?  Where does the African literary tradition stand today?  Where has it been?
*       Cosmopolitan writers, been-tos, and exiles: What do we make of the fact that a majority of the most widely read African writers do not live in Africa, or were educated abroad? How does this affect choices of form, theme and content? How does this affect the relationship between the writer and society?
*       The writer and the state. What role can/does the African writer play in terms of influencing and reflecting on contemporary politics? To what extent is the charge of elitism valid? Why do so many African states continue to see artists as threats and what can/should be done to invest in protections of the rights of writers, scholars, and activists? How and when are “Pan-African” and “nationalist” efforts either productive or problematic?

Papers from activists and scholars of any academic disciplines are welcome.  We invite papers on the roles of individual writers/groups as well as analyses of literary works or trends in African literature or its reception.  Please include a brief biographical statement or cv and your affiliation with your proposal. Deadline for 300-500 word abstracts is August 1, 2010. Accepted papers must be submitted by Dec. 1, 2010.  For more information or to submit a proposal, please contact the guest editors, Heather DuBois Bourenane at and Mukoma Wa Ngugi at

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