CFP: Small Magazines, Literary Networks and Self-Fashioning in Africa and its Diasporas (deadline for abstracts 30 Nov)

Small Magazines, Literary Networks and Self-Fashioning in Africa and its Diasporas
19-20 January 2018
University of Bristol, UK

This two-day conference seeks to explore the role of small magazines, literary journals and periodicals and other alternative print cultures from Africa in the larger context of Black Internationalism and its legacies. Through their role as sites of intimacy and collaboration, these publications give rise to the creation of networks of affiliation and corridors of storytelling which span localities, regions, transnational and diasporic contexts, functioning as active participants in the creation of black and African ideologies in the global imaginary. These networks, in turn, play a crucial role in everyday social, cultural and political life on the continent. From the late days of empire to the present day, cultural forms of expression have served as central media through which claims towards and against modernity and self-actualisation have developed, while also offering an outlet for the fostering of large-scale forms of activism and for the transmission of new orthodoxies for subjectivity, both individual and collective. In this conference, we examine these issues, considering the circulation and production of small magazines in Africa in order to explore the ways in which they enable lateral forms of self-fashioning. Ranging from formal publications in receipt of state and NGO sponsorship to informal ‘zines’ circulated through counter-cultural networks, and taking forms spanning print and digital media, small magazines are often neither widely known nor accessible outside of their specific localities; yet, through their vernacular and often-overlapping trajectories of distribution, these publications hold a significant role in the fostering of everyday practices, cultural memory while continuing to ask larger questions about the legacies of empire in a neo-liberal global capitalist order, driven through the platform of the nation-state.

Proposals are welcome which include but are not limited to the following:
– What forms of identification are produced, contested and authenticated in the small
magazines which proliferate across the continent?
– What do the aesthetics of small magazines suggest about the contours of the literary more broadly?
– What historical trajectories, genealogies and (dis)continuities are produced across the long durée of small magazines on the continent?
– How do the informal networks produced by publishers, writers and readers function with respect to formalised political and civic networks?
– What modes of self-fashioning emerge through the entanglements of actors and publics?
–  How might small magazines enable new theorisations of concepts such as modernity, print culture, black intellectual histories, Black internationalism?
– What role do small magazines play in the construction of an archive of the present?

Proposals for twenty-minute papers (250 words) can be sent to by 30 November 2017. The organisers will convey their decisions by 8 December 2017.


This CFP links to a new series of articles on Africa in Words, that come out of conversations between a new interdisciplinary network of researchers and literary producers examining the circulation and production of small magazines in Sub-Sahran Africa. This AHRC Research Network, ‘Small Magazines, Literary Networks and Self-Fashioning in Africa and its Diasporas’ is convened by Dr Madhu Krishnan (University of Bristol) and Dr Chris Ouma (University of Cape Town) and this year has hosted workshops in Cape Town (April 2017) and Kampala (August 2017) to explore the relationship between small magazines and the construction of affiliation, identity and civic participation. New research coming out of this network will be showcased at this conference, hosted at University of Bristol, in January 2018.

For previous AiW posts in the series, see AiW Guests, Sarah Smit’s ‘Finding Affiliations: Reading Communities, Literary Institutions & Small Magazines‘ and A secret history of the nation’: Small Magazines at Writivism 2017‘ by Nathan Suhr-Systma.

Categories: Calls for & opportunities

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1 reply


  1. Conference in UK: call for proposals - African Politics and Policy

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