On June 4 at the upcoming African Literature Association (ALA) conference at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, Africa in Words will be hosting a ‘Wikithon’ to improve the ‘African Literature’ Wikipedia page. During a Wikithon (also often called an ‘Edit-a-thon‘), people come together to edit a particular Wikipedia page or topic. The ALA conference theme this year is ‘African Futures and Beyond: Visions in Transition,’ and this Wikithon/panel will provide a unique, hands-on opportunity to create open access resources and to think about the future of knowledge production in African literary studies.
Wikipedia is the most popular reference website in the world and often the primary point of departure for student research. However, its pages vary greatly in their scope and quality. In particular, the Wikipedia page for ‘African Literature’ is an extremely limited resource and in need of scholarly references, expanded author lists, a potential re-framing of its categories of information, as well as greater attention to literature and orature in African languages.
The ALA conference is an ideal venue at which to involve a diverse body of scholars and writers in creating and editing high quality information about African literature. Most importantly, all of this information is available open access. During this Wikithon, we will discuss areas for intervention and improvement, teach basic Wikipedia editing skills, and begin editing the page collectively.
Key areas for improvement of the African literature page include: referencing academic work from the continent; greater attention to literature and orature in African languages; home page acknowledgement of diversity in what it currently labels as ‘postcolonial’ literature; a need to challenge the notion of ‘African’ literature vs. literatures; improvement in the discussion of oral literary forms and their contributions to and interactions with printed literary forms; greater attention to African women authors; and the acknowledgement of recent diverse digital contributions.
This roundtable will serve as the first step in an ongoing effort to improve open access resources like Wikipedia for African literature and African Studies more broadly. If you have ideas for ways that Wikipedia’s coverage of African literature could be improved please comment on this post or on Facebook or Twitter. The Wikithon will be held on June 4 from 16:00 -17:30 (GMT +2).