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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Joint book launch – Urban Revolt & Southern Resistance in Critical Perspective

Join the University of Johannesburg Library and the Centre for Social Change for the launch of two books focused on protests and resistance in the Global South: Urban Revolt and Southern Resistance in Critical Perspective.

Speakers will include contributors to the books: Trevor Ngwane, Immanuel Ness and Marcel Parett.

Event Details


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Read an excerpt from Michael Neocosmos’s Thinking Freedom in Africa

Thinking Freedom in Africa The Mail & Guardian has shared an excerpt from Thinking Freedom in Africa: Toward a theory of emancipatory politics by Michael Neocosmos.

The book, published by Wits University Press and the recipient of the 2017 Frantz Fanon Outstanding Book Award, explores the politics of emancipation via the study of the global history of African peoples’ struggles for liberation.

The excerpt reads:

How are we to begin to think about emancipation in Africa today after the collapse of the Marxist, the Third World nationalist and the neoliberal visions of freedom?

How are we to conceptualise an emancipatory future governed by a fidelity to the idea of a universal humanity in a context where humanity no longer features in our ambit of thought and when previous ways of thinking emancipation have become obsolete?

In the formulation made famous by Frantz Fanon on the last page of The Wretched of the Earth, how are we to “work out new concepts” for a new humanism?

Thinking Freedom in Africa: Toward a Theory of Emancipatory Politics seeks answers to these questions in the light of what has become apparent, namely the absence of a thought of politics in all three of these conceptions of universal history today.

You can read the coverage of the launch of Thinking Freedom in Africa here.
 
 

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Don’t miss the launch of Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms by Maxim Bolt at Wits

Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border Farms: The Roots of ImpermanenceWits University Press and WiSER invite you to the launch of Maxim Bolt’s award-winning book Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.

How do people create homes and stability in times of mass unemployment and uncertainty?

During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the border fence to South Africa, searching for work as farm labourers. In a time of intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalisation and post-apartheid land reform, Bolt explores the lives of migrant labourers and settled black farm workers and their dependants as they intersect with those of white farmers and managers on the Zimbabwean-South African border.

Join us for a conversation with Bolt as he discusses, with Tara Polzer (research director at Social Surveys Africa) and Eric Worby (Professor of Anthropology at Wits), the role of wage labour in a place of crisis.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 11 May 2016
  • Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
  • Venue: WiSER Seminar Room
    6th Floor Richard Ward Building
    East Campus, Wits University | Map
  • Panel: Tara Polzer and Eric Worby
  • Refreshments: Wine and juices will be served
  • RSVP: info.witspress@wits.ac.za

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Presenting Fiona Moolla’s Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms

Natures of AfricaComing soon from Wits University Press, Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms edited by Fiona Moolla:

Foreword by Byron Caminero-Santangelo:

Environmental and animal studies are rapidly growing areas of interest across a number of disciplines. Natures of Africa is one of the first edited volumes which encompasses transdisciplinary approaches to a number of cultural forms, including fiction, non-fiction, oral expression and digital media. The volume features new research from East Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the ecocritical and eco-activist “powerhouses” of Nigeria and South Africa.
The chapters engage one another conceptually and epistemologically without an enforced consensus of approach. In their conversation with dominant ideas about nature and animals, they reveal unexpected insights into forms of cultural expression of local communities in Africa. The analyses explore different apprehensions of the connections between humans, animals and the environment, and suggest alternative ways of addressing the challenges facing the continent. These include the problems of global warming, desertification, floods, animal extinctions and environmental destruction attendant upon fossil fuel extraction.

There are few books that show how nature in Africa is represented, celebrated, mourned or commoditised. Natures of Africa weaves together studies of narratives – from folklore, travel writing, novels and popular songs – with the insights of poetry and contemporary reflections of Africa on the worldwide web. The chapters test disciplinary and conceptual boundaries, highlighting the ways in which the environmental concerns of African communities cannot be disentangled from social, cultural and political questions.

This volume draws on and will appeal to scholars and teachers of oral tradition and indigenous cultures, literature, religion, sociology and anthropology, environmental and animal studies, as well as media and digital cultures in an African context.

About the editor

Fiona Moolla teaches African Literature at the University of the Western Cape. Her work focuses on the nexus between oral, print and digital cultures, highlighting human, animal, environmental and cosmic relationships.She is the author of Reading Nuruddin Farah: The Individual, the Novel and the Idea of Home.

Foreword Byron Caminero-Santangelo

Chapter 1: “Here is some baobab leaf!”: Sunjata, foodways and biopiracy Jonathan Bishop Highfield

Chapter 2: Shona as a land-based nature-culture: A study of the (re)construction of Shona land mythology in popular songs Mickias Musiyiwa

Chapter 3: The environment as signifi cant Other: The green nature of Shona indigenous religion Jacob Mapara

Chapter 4: Animal praise poetry and the Samburu desire to survive James Maina Wachira

Chapter 5: Voluntourism paradoxes: Strategic visual tropes of the natural on South African voluntourism websites Reinier JM Vriend

Chapter 6: Toward ecocriticism in Africa: Literary aesthetics in African environmental literature Chengyi Coral Wu

Chapter 7: Critical intersections: Ecocriticism, globalised cities and African narrative, with a focus on K Sello Duiker’s Thirteen Cents Antony Vital

Chapter 8: Navigating Gariep country: Writing nature and culture in Borderline by William Dicey Mathilda Slabbert

Chapter 9: Negotiating identity in a vanishing geography: Home, environment and displacement in Helon Habila’s Oil on Water Ogaga Okuyade

Chapter 10: Animal narrators in Patrice Nganang’s Dog Days: An Animal Chronicle and Alain Mabanckou’s Memoirs of a Porcupine Wendy Woodward

Chapter 11: Nature, animism and humanity in Anglophone Nigerian poetry Sule Egya

Chapter 12: Animals, nostalgia, and Zimbabwe’s rural landscape in the poetry of Chenjerai Hove and Musaemura Zimunya Syned Mthatiwa

About the authors
Acknowledgements
Notes

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Benedict Wallet Vilakazi – the ‘Father of Nguni Literature’ – honoured with Order of Ikhamanga

The late Zulu poet, novelist and linguist Benedict Wallet Vilakazi will be honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga today.

The National Orders Awards are awarded annually to those who have “played a momentous role towards building a free democratic South Africa and who also have made a significant impact on improving the lives of South Africans in various ways”.

Vilakazi and Marguerite Poland are the two writers who will be receiving the Order of Ikhamanga this year, an award that recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.

Wits University Press published Vilakazi’s first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (Zulu Horizons) – the poetry ever published in isiZulu – and a subsequent volume Amal’eZulu, as well as the first Zulu-English Dictionary, which Vilakazi compiled in collaboration with CM Doke.

Find out more, from Wits Press:

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi has been called the “Father of Nguni Literature”. He was born on 6 January, 1906 at Groutville Mission Station near Stanger in KwaZulu-Natal. The poet grew up in the neighbourhood of the mission station and in 1912 entered the primary school at Groutville, remaining there until he reached Standard 4. He continued his schooling at Marianhill, the Roman Catholic Monastery outside Durban, and after reaching standard 6, took a teacher’s training course.

Vilakazi’s gifts and ambitions came to the fore when he attended the Catholic Seminary at Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, where he devoted much of his spare time to distance education. He succeeded in matriculating, after which he taught at the Ohlange Institute in Phoenix near Durban. In 1934 he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in African Studies. At the time, Vilakazi was already known to academics at the University of the Witwatersrand, which was in the process of publishing his first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (tr: Zulu Horizons). This was the first book of poems ever published in isiZulu; it also marked the launch of the newly established Bantu (later: African) Treasury Series (published by Wits University Press), a collection of 20 classic works written between 1935 and the 1987 in African indigenous languages.

Coincidentally, the University was looking for an assistant in its Bantu Studies Department (now the Department of African Languages). At the insistence of CM Doke, at the time Head of Department, Vilakazi was appointed as Language Assistant in 1935. This appointment made him the first black African in the then Union of South Africa to teach at a white university, and it sparked a controversy: treated with suspicion by conservative whites, it was also seen as a “collaborationist appointment” (1) by some in the black political elite.

Vilakazi continued his own studies and, in 1938, was awarded a Master of Arts degree. In 1946 he reached another milestone by becoming the first black African in South Africa to receive a Doctorate in Literature (D Litt.) from Wits for his thesis The Oral and Written Literature in Nguni.

When Vilakazi entered the literary field, there were no published books of plays or poems written in isiZulu, and from 1930 onwards for 10 years, Vilakazi, HIE and RRR Dhlomo dominated the literary scene. Amal’eZulu (Wits University Press), published in 1945, was later recognized as one the best 100 African books of the twentieth century. Vilakazi also published three novels, Noma Nini! (Marianhill Mission Press), Udingiswayo KaJobe (Sheldon Press) and Nje Nempela (Marianhill Mission Press). In collaboration with Doke, he compiled the first Zulu-English Dictionary (Wits University Press). Writing in 1995, Dumisani Ntshangase asserted that Vilakazi and Doke:

produced the first major lexicographical work in an African language and this dictionary even today stands as the most successful and comprehensive project in African Languages lexicography in South Africa. (2)

In his writings, Vilakazi thought of himself as a spokesperson for his people and he identified with the struggles, fears, sacrifices and aspirations of his people. However, because of the bias towards African literature written in English – a bias that dominated academic discourse as well as debates within the resistance movement of the time – “his works have always been put in the periphery of the African intellectual history.” (3)

Vilakazi died suddenly of meningitis at Coronation Hospital at the age of 41 on 26 October, 1947, survived by five children. He was undoubtedly the most outstanding figure in Zulu literature of his time, and his funeral in Marianhill was attended by thousands of people.

References:

1. Dumisani Kruschchev Ntshangase, Between the Lion and the Devil: The Life and Works of BW Vilakazi, 1906-1947. Paper presented for the Institute for Advanced Social Research, University of Witwatersrand 1995. Page 3.
2. Ntshangase 1995, page 2.
3. Ntshangase 1995, page 1.


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Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt wins British Sociological Association Ethnography Award

Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border FarmsCongratulations to Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt, winner of the 2016 BBC Thinking Allowed/British Sociological Association Ethnography Award for his book Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.

Thinking Allowed in association with the British Sociological Association offers the annual award for a study that has made a significant contribution to ethnography: the in-depth analysis of the everyday life of a culture or sub-culture.

Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms, explores uncertainty in a post-apartheid South Africa. During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for work as farm labourers. Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependents, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. A close ethnographic study, it addresses the complex, shifting labour and life conditions in northern South Africa’s agricultural borderlands. Underlying these challenges are the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis of the 2000s and the intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalization and post-apartheid land reform.

Jonny Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope, said about Bolt’s book: “In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. Ever alert to the counterintuitive, he shows how stability is fashioned in the midst of the unstable, and how work organises life in a time of mass unemployment. The monograph sheds light on new and important social processes. It is a significant achievement.”

Bolt is a Lecturer in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham and a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand. His doctoral thesis, on whose research this monograph draws, was awarded runner-up in the biennial Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK.

Listen to an interview with Bolt talking to Laurie Taylor on the BBC (The interview starts at 10:36 minutes in):

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Don’t Miss Fanon Fest and the Launch of What Fanon Said by Lewis Gordon at Wits

Invitation to the Fanon Fest

 
What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to his Life and ThoughtOn the PostcolonyWits University Press is pleased to invite you to Fanon Fest – a series of seminars on the revolutionary psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon in celebration of the launch of What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to his Life and Thought by Lewis Gordon.

The festival will run from Friday, 2 October, to Tuesday, 6 October, in the Graduate Seminar Room at the University of the Witwatersrand.

On Monday, Gordon will launch What Fanon Said in conversation with Abdul JanMohamed, Lwazi Lushaba and Shibu Motimele. The panel discussion starts at 5:30 for 6 PM and will be chaired by Zimitri Erasmus. RSVP by Friday, 2 October, to ensure a seat.

On Friday, Gordon will kick off the seminar programme with a discussion on “What is the role of the ‘native intellectual’ in the post-colonial African order?”.

Achille Mbembe, author of On the Postcolony, will lead the seminar on “Concerning Violence – Reading Beyond Sartre” on Monday and Nigel Gibson will talk about “Fanon in Tunis: Politics and Psychiatry” on Tuesday.

The seminars will take place each day at 1 PM.

Don’t miss it!

Fanon Fest Details

  • Date: Friday, 2 October, to Tuesday, 6 October, 2015
  • Time of seminars: 1 PM
  • Time of book launch: Monday at 5:30 for 6 PM
  • Venue: Graduate Seminar Room
    South West Engineering Building
    East Campus
    Wits University | Map
  • Speakers: Lewis Gordon, Achille Mbembe, Nigel Gibson and many more
  • RSVP: info.witspress@wits.ac.za

 

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Join Lewis Gordon for the Launch of What Fanon Said at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of What Fanon Said

 
What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to his Life and ThoughtWits Press and The Book Lounge would like to invite you to the launch of What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to his Life and Thought by Lewis Gordon.

In the book Gordon offers a portrait of Martinican-turned-Algerian revolutionary psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon as an exemplar of “living thought” against forms of reason marked by colonialism and racism.

The launch it taking place tonight – Monday, 28 September – at 5:30 for 6 PM at The Book Lounge. Gordon will be speaking with Abdul JanMohamed of the University of California, Berkeley.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Monday, 28 September 2015
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland Street
    Cape Town | Map
  • Interviewer: Abdul JanMohamed
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge, booklounge@gmail.com, 021 462 2425

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Lewis Gordon Examines Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks in an Excerpt from What Fanon Said

What Fanon SaidThe Mail & Guardian has shared an excerpt from Lewis Gordon’s What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to his Life and Thought.

Gordon is Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies at the University of Connecticut, Storrs; European Union Visiting Chair in Philosophy at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France; and Nelson Mandela Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rhodes University. He was a guest of the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival recently.

Read the excerpt, which looks at Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks:

There is a white construction called “the black”. This construction is told that if he or she really is human, then he or she could go beyond the boundaries of race. The black can supposedly “really choose” to live otherwise as a form of social being that is not black and is not any racial form or designation.

Racial constructions are leeches on all manifestations of human ways of living: language, sex, labour (material and aesthetic), socialising (reciprocal recognition), consciousness, and the “soul”. Black Skin, White Masks thus describes a quasi-anonymous black hero’s efforts to shake off these leeches and live an adult human existence.

Each chapter represents options offered the black by modern Western thought. In good faith, then, the black hero attempts to live through each of these options simply as a human being. But the black soon discovers that to do so calls for living simply as a white. Antiblack racism presents whiteness as the “normal” mode of “humanness”. So, the black reasons, if blackness and whiteness are constructed, perhaps the black could then live the white construction, which would reinforce the theme of constructivity.

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Lewis Gordon, Author of What Fanon Said, Criticises the “De-intellectualisation” of Black Authors

What Fanon SaidLewis Gordon’s What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to his Life and Thought has recently been published by Wits University Press.

Ngugi wa Thiong’s said of the book: “In the hands of Lewis Gordon, What Fanon Said becomes what Frantz Fanon says to us today.

“The book brings alive the revolutionary thought and practice of Fanon into the continuing struggles for structural economic, political, social and psychic transformations of our world. The struggle against anti-black racism is an integral part of it and Gordon’s Fanon is the many-sided thinker who saw it all and gave it words of fire.”

Gordon, who is Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies at the University of Connecticut and Nelson Mandela Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rhodes University, spoke to Wits University Press about why he wrote the book:

I was part of a movement that argued the following: a genuinely great thinker offers ideas on which to build. My relationship with Fanon was primarily through using arguments from his thought that I found useful for my own intellectual work. I noticed, however, the emergence of Fanon studies proper, and debates in that area of study often hinged on things he was accused of saying or writing that he actually did not say or write and in other cases varieties of misinterpretations in translations from French to other languages.

I was invited by another publisher to write a book on what Fanon “really” said, but it turned out they wanted a very non-intellectual book on Fanon, which I considered an insult to his memory as well as to what I have argued against – namely, the tendency to de-intellectualise the work of black authors through seeking theory from white ones and only experience from black ones.

I thus decided, as I did in my book An Introduction to Africana Philosophy (2008), to write, in philosophical terms, a genuine philosophical introduction to his thought. The question of an intellectual history of black thinkers requires a philosophy of intellectual history, which I argued for and in fact introduced under the guise of “an introduction” in the earlier book, but for Fanon, the additions also involve a philosophical biography, for Fanon’s life posed complicated questions of how disciplines meet to study a life.

I thus used ideas from my book Disciplinary Decadence, in which I argued for an approach of, paradoxically, building a philosophy beyond philosophy. Fanon’s life and even his “after life,” if we will, are heavily political, which makes the task not only one of a philosophy of biography but also a theory of political biography and, by extension, political history.

So, I wrote this book as a project with several aims: (1) articulating a philosophical political intellectual biography not only of Fanon and his thought but also of ideas stimulated by that thought, which means a portrait of Fanon studies as well; (2) exploring the problem of what is involved in studying a thinker from the Global South and demonstrating the scale of fields, disciplines, and political events affected by that thinker; (3) demonstrating Fanon’s continued relevance theoretical and political relevance; and along the way it occurred to me that the book was completed in time to serve also as a celebration of (4) Fanon’s 90th year.

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