Literatures of Change: Culture and Politics in Southern Africa

Literatures of Change: Culture and Politics in Southern Africa

The workshop series ‘Literatures of Change: Culture and Politics in Southern Africa’ is an initiative to foster a Nordic research environment on African culture and literature. Generously sponsored by the Nordic research councils, the series includes two workshops and three associated outreach events. In addition to the outreach events, the results will be disseminated in two edited volumes.

The series responds to a lacuna in the Nordic research landscape where African Studies have a strong social science base but a rather limited platform for humanities research. In launching a network on African culture and literature, the workshop series seeks to create viable connections in these fields between researchers in the Nordic countries and beyond, especially in African regions where such research is in fact quite robust. The workshops will focus on the relationship between literature and politics in Southern Africa with a particular emphasis on Zimbabwe. The analysis of recent upheavals in the region will benefit from the addition of a cultural studies approach. The organisers will facilitate discussion of how the network can establish itself more permanently and further extend the scope of its work.

Literatures of Change. Group photo.
From left to right: Ashleigh Harris, Minna Niemi, Mai Palmberg, Novuyo Tshuma, Amanda Hammar, Jocelyn Alexander, Hazel Ngoshi, Robert Muponde, Kirsten Pedersen, Astrid Rasch, Oliver Nyambi, Lena Englund and Nicklas Hållen

Writing Repression

The workshop was dedicated to the theme of ‘Writing Repression in Zimbabwe’. It explored forms of writing in and against a repressive society, considering the silencing of dissenting voices and strategies to circumvent censorship. It took place on 10-12 May 2019 at Nordic Africa Institute and Krusenberg Herrgård. The results were published as a special issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies on the theme of ‘Writing Repression in Zimbabwe’, edited by Astrid Rasch, Minna Johanna Niemi and Jocelyn Alexander (2021, vol. 47, no. 5). The volume is available via Open Access here. Programmme Writing Repression.

Literature and the Politics of the Past in Southern Africa

Online event: Literature and the Politics of the Past in Southern Africa with Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah and postcolonial literary scholar and fiction writer, Elleke Boehmer. Watch the conversation Literature and the Politics of the Past in Southern Africa.

Literature and the Politics of the Past in Southern Africa. Grafikk

The Politics of the Past

The online workshop took place in May 2020 and explored the many political usages of the past and the many genres through which the past is put to political use (whether through social media, literature, film, art, or archaeology). Programme The Politics of the Past.

The Politics of the Past in Zimbabwe

As a follow-up event from the 2021 workshop, the on-site workshop in September 2022 took place at the Centre of African Studies in Copenhagen and Gilleleje Badehotel. The aim of the workshop was to develop contributions to an anthology of the same title. The anthology is currently being edited and may be published with Brill in 2023/24. Programme The Politics of the Past in Zimbabwe.


Seminar. Literatures of change. Photo.
From left to right: Astrid Rasch, Mphathisi Ndlovu, Owen Maseko, Julia Willén, Minna Niemi, Katja Uusihakala, Shari Eppel, Jocelyn Alexander, Timothy Scarnecchia, Amanda Hammar and Lena Englund

Politics of the Past as Future Making in Zimbabwe

The results of the anthology will be presented at a panel at the European Conference of African Studies in May 2023.



The events are co-convened by a group of Nordic-based scholars: Astrid Rasch, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Amanda Hammar, University of Copenhagen; Minna Johanna Niemi, The Arctic University of Norway; Lena Englund, University of Eastern Finland; and Nicklas Hållén, Karlstad University.