2022 Conference: Adversity and Creativity           

2022 Theme

47th Annual meeting of the African Literature Association

“Adversity and Creativity: African Literature, Film, Media and Public Discourse”

May 18-21, 2022 (Online)


Proposals for the 2022 Conference are no longer being accepted.


Adversity disrupts, impedes, or slows down social change and can radically constrain the context(s) in which artists and writers develop and circulate their productions. In Africa, the violence of colonialism and ongoing contestations over post-colonial modernity reveal the profound effects of various forms of “adversity.” Adversarial situations are often manifested as re-incarnations of history, and take on new forms depending on their intensity and scale. “Adversarial contexts in which cultures wrestle with each other,” and against each other, as the Guyanese writer Wilson Harris wrote, also function as the arena in which both the protagonists and antagonists in a conflict “share mutual spaces” (New Left Review, Nov/Dec 1985: 126, 128). Natural and human-made calamities like genocide, apartheid, ethnic-wars, epidemics and pandemics, ecological disasters, and others are some of the forms of adversity that have visited the continent and its global diaspora. Each one of these challenges can occur separately but frequently intersects with one or more of the others, obfuscating distinctions.

The trajectories of African literature, film, and media – as disciplines and individual content of the works – show how African writers and artists on the continent and the diaspora have coped with, survived, even thrived under such adversities, both historical and contemporary. There is ample comparative evidence – ranging from South Africa to Morocco, Nigeria to Zimbabwe, Kenya to Senegal and more – that African writers, film-makers, media artists, reporters and critics have taken the disabling effects and legacies of manufactured and natural adversities as the subject-matter for observation, investigation, criticism and resistance. The attendant contradictions, tensions, and conflicts have as much impeded as they have inspired unique creative expressions to tell stories of losses and survival, traumas and resilience, in narratives woven with the aesthetic paradoxes of the contexts that bore the conditions.

The ALA annual conference 2022 proposes to critically explore the complex relationship between adversity and creativity by focusing on questions of how societies, cultures,
communities and nations, on the one hand, and individual writers and artists, on the other, respond to adversity, and how “adversity” itself may enable, incite, motivate or impede
creativities or creative expressions.

Themes and Sub-themes:

  • African fiction and non-fiction (on the continent and in the diaspora)
  • Epidemics/Pandemics, Disease and Health
  • Gender & sexual liberation in African fiction and non-fiction
  • Disability & disablement/
  • Childhood/ageing
  • Ecology/Environment/Justice
  • Famine/civil wars
  • Apartheid
  • Genocide
  • Linguicide
  • Vanishing of cultures/civilizations/habitats
  • Vanishing of architectures/cities
  • Climate change
  • Catastrophes and slow violence
  • Brain drain
  • African futures and adversity
  • Adversity in African popular culture
  • Thwarted independence
  • Pan-African solidarity
  • Existential alienation as a form of adversity
  • Online local and global movements (#BlackLivesMatter, #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall, etc.)
  • Multiple (im)mobilities
  • Experimental expressive forms
  • Suppression of creativity
  • Afro-politanism
  • Adversarial relationships in literature, film, media, and public discourse
  • Adversarial relationships between creatives, the state, and capital
  • Subversion as/and creativity
  • Neo-slave narratives
  • Religion, faith, and adversity
  • Teaching in adversarial conditions
  • Migration, adversity, and regimes of mobility

For more information, contact the conference committee at: ALA2022conf@gmail.com