Call for paper: Africa 2020 "Artistic, Digital, and Political Creation in English-Speaking African Countries'
The University of Aix-Marseilles and its peer-reviewed journal of AMU research centre on Anglophone Studies (LERMA), E-rea, is dedicating a special issue to contemporary creation in English-speaking African countries in the frame of the Africa 2020 season on the theme of "Artistic, Digital, and Political Creation"
What is it about?
French President Emmanuel Macron announced on 3rd July 2018 in Lagos that a Special Season would be organized in France, from June to December 2020, to mark a renewed partnership with Africa, a “varied, strong and diverse continent that will play a part in our shared future”. Even if this cultural focus cannot be abstracted from a broader geopolitical agenda marred by controversial presidential declarations (Joe; Iati), it nevertheless has the potential to offer a somewhat different coverage of the continent. One can only hope that it avoids the temptation to officially “curate into being” “exceptional” artists (Dovey 60), tapping into the all-too-familiar image of Africa as “the supreme receptacle of the West’s obsession with, and about, the facts of ‘absence,’ ‘lack,’ and ‘non-being,’ of identity and difference” (Mbembe 4).
Marseilles is undoubtedly set to play a major role in Africa 2020. The city’s special relationship with the continent dates back to its function as the first colonial port in France and persists in its multiple diasporic ties and recent position as one of Europe’s main transit points for African immigrants whose status is more and more precarious. One of the city’s major cultural festivals, the multidisciplinary Festival de Marseille, has embraced these historical, cultural, and social ties for the past three years, under Jan Goosens’ directorship.
Building on the recent partnership signed between Aix-Marseille Université (AMU) and the Festival, the peer-reviewed journal of AMU research centre on Anglophone Studies (LERMA), E-rea, has decided to seize the opportunity of Africa 2020 to dedicate a special issue to contemporary creation in English-speaking African countries. The first part of this double issue will consist in a series of interviews with English-speaking African artists programmed at or connected with the Festival de Marseille, while the second part, which is the subject of this call for papers, will focus on English-speaking African countries as places of contemporary artistic, digital, and political creation. Heeding Kenyan political analyst Nanjala Nyabola’s advice to eschew the too reductive ‘Africa rising’ and ‘Africa failing’ narratives in favour of ‘Africa being’ stories, this special issue wishes to focus on “stories reflecting the ambivalence, complexity, challenges and opportunities of African societ[ies] in an increasingly connected world” (Nyabola xxiv).
Asked in 2013 about the African contribution to a future world, South Africa-based philosopher and historian Achille Mbembe looked at the cultural history of the continent and identified “three attributes that can be conceptually deemed creative”: multiplicity, circulation and composition (Blaser). This special issue aims at recovering the multiplicity of creative African contexts, while bearing in mind the openness of these contexts, especially in the age of the internet, even if the propension of African people and ideas to circulate within the continent and abroad predated the invention of cyberspace. The third principle, composition, is described by Mbembe as a definition of identity in relation: “the subject is understood as being made and remade through the ethical interaction with what or who is not him” (Blaser). Composition can also be understood in a temporal sense: just like the Ghanaian Twi motive of the Sankofa bird, which builds its new nest with the straws of its former one (El Anatsui), contemporary creation is inscribed in a globalized world while being rooted in colonial and pre-colonial African contexts. Although this special issue aims at focusing on the present, this heritage and its influence on today’s societies cannot be ignored.
Deadline is January 1st 2020