Call for chapters: Independent Publishing in Africa – deadline for abstracts Jan 31, 2021.

In African countries, small and independent publishers are coming under increasing strain. The impact of changes in the global marketplace, including the increasing importance of the digital space and ongoing economic struggles intensified by the Covid-19 lockdown, have combined with a range of local pressures and constraints to produce an increasingly uncertain terrain. Despite their storied histories and the crucial role many played in the independence project and promoting African culture, several local presses have warned of their possible extinction. In South Africa, for example, the celebrated Lovedale Press was forced to issue stark warnings about its future viability. Therefore, at such a crucial juncture, the time is ripe to reflect on the position of independent publishing in Africa. 

We invite proposals for papers to be published in an edited collection entitled Independent Publishing in Africa. The collection will span the independence period to the present and seeks a linear schematic. It will reflect on complex histories, engage with the challenges of today, and explore an increasingly innovative future. Issues to be engaged with include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of publishing in Africa as a cultural and social force;
  • The influence of the political sphere on content, circulation and criticism;
  • The changing nature of publishers’ networks and circuits;
  • New challenges, the pressures of the digital space, and how these have shaped content;
  • The interaction between publishers and other, alternative media forms;
  • Bibliodiversity, and the relationship between independent publishers and commercial and/or multinational publishing houses;
  • African publishing and the decolonisation of knowledge.

The collection seeks to engage with publishing across the whole African continent. However, proposals that concern Southern Africa and Lusophone Africa are particularly welcome. We also hope to establish a conversation between literary scholars, book history academics, publishers, and writers.

Abstracts should be written in English and be between 350 and 500 words. They should be sent, along with five keywords, to Tom Penfold (tpenfold@uj.ac.za) and Beth le Roux (beth.leroux@up.ac.za). The deadline for abstracts is 31 January 2021.

Completed submissions should be no longer than 8000 words and will be required by the end of June 2021.