2020 Conference: Beyond Censorship?

CFPs for Panels, Roundtables, Seminars

Beyond Censorship: The Image of the Censures and Self Censorship
Session type:
Panel
Organized by: Addisu Hailu
Send abstracts or inquiries to:
sidahailu@gmail.com

Beyond Censorship: The Image of the Censures and Self Censorship
Session type: Pannel
Organized by: Addisu Hailu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Send abstracts or inquiries to: sidahailu@gmail.com

Abstract
After throwing the Haile Selassie regime that pioneered official suppressions of freedom of speech in Ethiopia, the Derg military junta enthroned itself with Socialist form of government. And like its predecessor, the Derg officially made Freedom of expression unthinkable too. Both regimes were able to create frightening images for the harsh measures they took on writers, artists and the common people for being consumer. The purpose of this study is to show the figure of the censures in the eyes of the artists and the direct impact on the art. The data is collected from a book entitled “Maekeb” literally to mean-censorship through close reading. It was written by Endalegeta Kebede, famous novelist in Ethiopia currently. The book thoroughly deals with the history of censorship in three different Ethiopian governments, (The Imperial Period, the Derg period and the EPRDF period). To make the study manageable, the Haile Selassie and Derg regimes are taken as samples since in both regimes censorship is official. As a result, it is observed that censorship caused damage on the quantity and quality of the art and literature. In addition to this, the frightening image of the censures drove away plenty of writers, artists and play writes to overseas countries to escape imprisonment. Others who dared to stay on their business unwillingly developed the habit of ‘self-censorship’ before submitting a copy to censorship office that directly harms the natural development of the art.
Panelists are invited on any aspects of censorship that explores its impact on African art, literature, the Artists, the writers and the people. Issues like the following would be pertinent to the conference. The image of the censures, the impact of censorship on the art, the suffering of the writers and artists, self censorship, people in censored states, official and unofficial censorship, the current state of censorship, etc. these and other related papers would be perfect.
NB. Abstracts should be not more than 300 words.

Beyond Censorship: Literary and Filmic Representations of Secular Heterodoxy in Politics, Body Politics, Ethnic and Gender Relations
Session type:
Panel
Organized by: MOUHAMEDOUL A NIANG
Send abstracts or inquiries to:
maniang@colby.edu

The punitive powers of religions, dictatorial political authority, and conservative traditions have compelled many African writers and filmmakers to resort to various types of artifice to engage critically with the cultural orthodoxies of their communities and nation-states without jeopardizing their works. Realities on the African continent curbed their ability to exercise key characteristics of modernity, namely liberty and reflexivity. However, some made themselves exceptions to this rule by thumbing their noses at these orthodoxies as they depict politics, body politics, ethnic and gender relations in ways that even may shock liberal readers in Africa. Calixthe Beyala’s Femme nue, femme noire, Bolya Baenga’s Les Cocus posthumes, Malika Mokeddem’s Des rêves et des assassins, and Joseph Gaye Ramaka’s Karmen Gueï are pertinent examples of such literary and filmic productions that display a liberal mindset. This panel invites papers on liberal works that pertain to the evolution of representation in African literature and cinema, these works dealing with the aforementioned themes. Panelists should reflect on the heterodoxies of these productions and their implications for politics, religion, conservative traditions and the youth in 21st-century Africa. How do they question what it means to be an African? In what ways do they expose Africa’s vulnerability or contributions to evolving universal ideologies, practices and concepts? What is their reception and how do they construct a new morality in Africa, if at all, after the advent of Christianity and Islam?

Temporalities
Session type:
Panel
Organized by: Matt Omelsky and Ken Harrow
Send abstracts or inquiries to:
matthew.omelsky@rochester.edu

The purpose of this panel is to focus on the question of time, broadly construed, in African and African diasporic cultural production. We each have papers to present on the panel, but we seek two additional papers that speak to some aspect of time in literature, cinema, music, or another aesthetic form. Approaches might include: memory, trauma, prophecy, divination, futurity, time travel, myth, utopian desire, philosophies of history, time and the body, presence/immediacy, apocalypse/end times, or speculative histories/futures. We also welcome work that directly engages questions of time and aesthetic form, such as narrative time, uses of the archive, and tempo and pacing.

Please contact us asap:
Matt Omelsky matthew.omelsky@rochester.edu
Ken harrow harrow@msu.edu

Censorship and Stand-up Comedy in Africa
Session type:
Seminar
Organized by: Izuu Nwankwo
Send abstracts or inquiries to:
inwankwo@uni-mainz.de

Stand-up comedy has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in various parts of Africa today.
Its prevalence is in the main buoyed by its improvisational nature which makes it relatively cheaper to enact than
other more conventional genres and adaptable to different formats (media and live) of distribution. Also, from
performances in Arabic in the north, to Pidgin in the West, and the deployment of Kiswahili and Sheng in the East,
not forgetting the mix of vernac and Afrikaans in South Africa as well as other medley of colonial and indigenous
languages, African stand-up speaks directly to the peoples of the continent in their most prevalent languages.
Nevertheless, for two major traits that it has, stand-up comedy is one performance that has recently attracted
calls for increased censorship. Firstly, it is performed with direct speech, sometimes a conversation with the
audience. Secondly, its humour is mostly derived from potentially offensive situations. For speaking directly to the
audience, much of what comedians say appear to be their personal opinions and when such thoughts are
considered politically incorrect, they often attract offence rather than mirth. As such, much of what good
comedians do is to raise issues that could be offensive and then deftly steer their audiences in the direction of
amusement rather than abuse.
But what about those times when the comedian fails to successfully tell a joke in an amusing manner? What
happens when the comedian is unable to maintain the balance and veers towards offending those that have come
to find amusement? How do comedians especially in Africa, with its multitudinous cultures and sensibilities
navigate these differences and continually keep audiences amused rather than abuse? What official and unofficial
censorship affect stand-up comedy in specific localities of Africa? What problems and difficulties arise from the
distribution of stand-up events through social media into spaces far removed from the context and performance
dynamics in which they were originally produced? With much of its materials coming from potentially offensive
circumstances, to what extent will increased censorship negatively affect stand-up comedy in Africa especially
given that jokes do not elicit the same level of mirth for each repeated telling?
These and many more questions as well as answers to them coming from the practice of stand-up comedy in
different parts of Africa will interest us. We are hoping to convene a seminar which will be made up of two or
three panels in order to create more interest in the study of stand-up comedy in Africa.
Abstracts should be between 250 and 300 words

Campus Forms
Session type:
Panel
Organized by: Anne W. Gulick
Send abstracts or inquiries to:
agulick@mailbox.sc.edu

This panel invites papers that will explore the distinctiveness of the African campus novel, as well, more generally, as African literary approaches to the university as an idea, an institution, and a physical space. In the U.S. and the U.K. the campus novel is a satirical genre, a comic and largely conservative form that exposes the foibles and excesses of (mainly white, middle-class) campus life but tends to sideline student experiences and stops short of interrogating the institution writ large. While African literature certainly includes a good number of satirical takes on the university (e.g. Austin Bukenya’s The People’s Bachelor and Vincent Chukuemeka Ike’s Toads for Supper), this archive boasts a much wider range of approaches to exploring the university—from Nollywood melodrama to kunstlerromane to plays that stage the central tensions and conflicts of contemporary movements to decolonize knowledge and its institutions. Papers for this panel might address any aspect of the campus and its literary forms in African writing. Possible areas of inquiry might include campuses as physical spaces; campuses as sites of wellness or unwellness; narratives of Africans studying abroad; literary renderings of student movements, past and present; learning communities both within and beyond the boundaries of the institution; and literature’s relationship to past and present debates about decolonizing the university. This panel is sponsored by the Journal of African Cultural Studies and is part of an effort to develop a Campus Forms network comprised of scholars from multiple disciplines, located in myriad regions, and at all different points in their careers who are working on various aspects of university life and its cultural representations. Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words, as well as a short biographical sketch, to agulick@mailbox.sc.edu by 30 October.

The Asian Presence in East Africa: History, Identity and Communities.
Session type:
Panel
Organized by: Gaurav Desai and James Ocita
Send abstracts or inquiries to:
jocita01@gmail.com

In August 2022, Uganda will mark the 50th anniversary since the 1972 expulsion of Asians from Uganda by a decree of the then President Idi Amin. The expulsion involved the migration of over 27, 000 into the U.K., around 6, 000 into Canada, around 5, 000 into India and smaller numbers into countries as disparate as Australia, Norway, Germany, Mauritius, Kenya, New Zealand, Malawi and Pakistan. A few chose to defy the expulsion order and stayed. While many of these exiles set up new homes in their host countries, a few families returned in the late nineties and early twenty-first century. The Asians in Uganda today comprise of some of these returnees, those who never left in the first place, and new arrivals from the subcontinent with no special historical ties to the region. These groups live in a non-racial postcolonial Uganda, experiencing in different ways what it means to be an Asian Ugandan, returnee, immigrant, etc., and how these social categories complicate identification processes, questions of inclusion and exclusion, rights and questions of social justice, and ideas of home in the post-expulsion and increasingly globalizing Uganda, among other concerns. The experiences of Asians before and after the expulsion, or, in other words, the first and the second Asian questions, afford us important ways of framing the conversations between peoples, cultures, ideas and regions in cognizance of the global context of, and opportunities activated by, these entanglements.

Papers for presentation at the ALA 2020 conference are invited on any aspects of this history. We hope to publish a Special Issue or Section of JALA to appear in 2022 in commemoration of the expulsion. Please send abstracts to both Gaurav Desai at desaig@umich.edu and James Ocita at jocita01@gmail.com

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