Speakers 2020

Speakers 2020

  • Aibo, Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim

    • Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo
    • Certified Translator and Interpreter, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    • Abstract Title: "The Politics of Translating Sound Motifs in African Fiction"

    Bio: Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo holds an M.A. in Translation and a Ph.D. in Translation Studies from Université de Montréal and currently teaches translation and interpreting online at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She sits on the scientific committee of Tafsiri, Panafrican Journal of Translation and Interpretation, is a reviewer for international translation studies journals, and the Director of the Colony in Crisis in Haitian Creole Translation Project funded by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. She has numerous publications on translating African literature and translation pedagogy and her first book, The Politics of Translating Sound Motifs in African Fiction, is forthcoming with John Benjamins in March 2020. She has been translating, teaching, and interpreting in the Americas, Europe, and Africa for the past 30 years and now runs her own company, Into French Translations. She is a healthcare interpreter certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters and an OTTIAQ-certified translator in the province of Québec. 

    AbstractThe Politics of Translating Sound Motifs in African Fiction is a research monograph that starts with the premise that aesthetic choices reveal the ideological stances of translators. She examines works of fiction by postcolonial African authors writing in English or French, the genesis and reception of their works, and the translation of each one into French or English. Texts include those by Nuruddin Farah from Somalia, Abdourahman Ali Waberi from Djibouti, Jean-Marie Adiaffi from Côte d’Ivoire, Ayi Kwei Armah from Ghana, Chenjerai Hove from Zimbabwe, and Assia Djebar from Algeria, and their translations by Jacqueline Bardolph, Jeanne Garane, Brigitte Katiyo, Jean-Pierre Richard, Josette and Robert Mane, and Dorothy Blair. Jay‑Rayon Ibrahim Aibo highlights the aural poetics of these works, explores the sound motifs underlying their literary power, and shows how each is articulated with the writer’s literary heritage. She then embarks on a close examination of each translator’s background, followed by a rich analysis of their treatments of sound. The translators’ strategies for addressing sound motifs are contextualized in the larger framework of postcolonial literatures and changing reading materialities.

  • Alessandra Williams

    • Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University
    • Abstract Title: Horidraa: Golden Healing: Black Lives Matter Movements in the Indian Dance Practice of Ananya Dance Theatre

    BIo: Alessandra Williams is an assistant professor of dance at Rutgers University-New Brunswick who performs with the Ananya Dance Theatre company. She researches dance, Asian and African American culture, gender, and queer theory. She has been awarded fellowships such as the Inclusive Excellence Fellowship (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 2018-2019), Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship (University of California, Los Angeles 2010–14), and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (Macalester College 2005–07). Her publications include the forthcoming anthology Dancing Transnational Feminisms: Ananya Dance Theatre and the Art of Social Justice with her co-editors Ananya Chatterjea and Hui Niu Wilcox. And Williams’ book project on queer theory and race examines the choreography of David Roussève/REALITY dance company.

    Abstract: Ananya Dance Theatre’s evening-length dance Horidraa: Golden Healing (2016) highlights the conditions of Black lives in a U.S. context in order to mobilize its social justice objectives toward choreographic action. Ananya Dance Theatre is a company that aims to explore global, intersectional experiences of queer, Black and brown women and femmes. Based in the Twin Cities metropolitan region of Minnesota, the artistic director Ananya Chatterjea created Horidraa: Golden Healing in the wake of two killings of unarmed Black men in Minneapolis, Saint Paul area, Jamar Clark in 2014 and Philando Castile in 2016. I argue that Chatterjea’s compositional strategies for the Ananya Dance Theatre company in solo and ensemble movement are the efforts that propel it toward emphasizing Black Lives. Moreover, as the choreography of Horidraa broadens how the intersection of gender and race might be understood through its placement of Black bodies in its Indian dance technique known as “Yorchhā,” it has the potential to make critical space for dance practice in highlighting calls for making “All Black Lives Matter.”

  • Batchelor, Kathryn

    • Kathryn Batchelor
    • University College, London, UK
    • Abstract Title: Translating Africa for China

    Bio: Kathryn Batchelor is Professor of Translation Studies at University College London (UCL). Her research interests encompass translation theory, literary translation, translation history, translation and philosophy, and translation in or about Africa. She is the author of Decolonizing Translation: Francophone African Novels in English Translation (St. Jerome, 2009) and Translation and Paratexts (Routledge, 2018). She has also co-edited four volumes of essays: Translating Thought/Traduire la pensée (special issue of Nottingham French Studies 49.2, 2010), Intimate Enemies: ‘Translation in Francophone Contexts (Liverpool University Press, 2013), Translating Frantz Fanon across Continents and Languages (Routledge, 2017), China-Africa Relations: Building Images through Cultural Cooperation. Media Representation and Communication (Routledge, 2017).

    Abstract: In this paper, I examine the ways in which Africa is being ‘translated’ for China in the context of twenty-first-century Africa-China cooperation. What are the images of Africa that are being constructed in this era of increased investment and deepening diplomatic ties, both for Chinese audiences and for the wider global public? Who shapes these images, for whom, and with which motives? I will explore these questions with regard to three interlinking aspects of post-2000 Africa-China cooperation. Firstly, I will outline the ways in which a traditional, stereotyped image of ‘Africa’ is being constructed for Chinese publics through formal cultural exchange activities carried out under the aegis of the FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation). Secondly, I will explore efforts by African groups to push back against these stereotypes, reflecting on the importance of nation (or continent) branding for international cooperation. Thirdly, I will present the results of a survey of African literature translated into Chinese between 2000 and 2015, interrogating questions of commissioning and dissemination in order to highlight connections between translation activities and soft power.

  • Brent Hayes Edwards

    • Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

     

    Bio: Brent Hayes Edwards is Peng Family Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination (2017), and The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (2003). His translations include works by Edouard Glissant, Aimé Césaire, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Sony Labou Tansi, and Monchoachi, as well as Michel Leiris’s 1934 Phantom Africa (2017), for which Edwards was awarded a 2012 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant. He was a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow.

  • Diagne, Souleymane Bachir

    • Souleymane Bachir Diagne
    • University Professor and Director of Institute of African Studies, Columbia University
    • Abstract Title: Keynote Address: Translatio studiorum and Africa

    Bio: Souleymane Bachir Diagne received his academic training in France. An alumnus of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, he earned his Ph.D. (Doctorat d’État) in philosophy at the Sorbonne (1988) where he also earned his B.A. (1977). His field of research includes Boolean algebra of logic, history of philosophy, Islamic philosophy, African philosophy and literature. He is the author of Boole, l’oiseau de nuit en plein jour (Paris: Belin, 1989) (a book on Boolean algebra), Islam and the Open Society: Fidelity and Movement in the Philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal (Dakar, Codesria, 2011), African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson, and the Idea of Negritude (Seagull Books,  2011), The Ink of the Scholars: Reflections on Philosophy in Africa (Dakar, Codesria, 2016), Open to Reason: Muslim Philosophers in Conversation with Western Tradition (New York, Columbia University Press, 2018). His book, Bergson postcolonial: L’élan vital dans la pensée de Senghor et de Mohamed Iqbal (Paris: Editions du CNRS, 2011) is forthcoming in an English version to be published by Fordham University Press. That book was awarded the Dagnan-Bouveret prize by the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences for 2011 and in that same year, Professor Diagne received the Edouard Glissant Prize for his work. Professor Diagne’s current teaching interests include the history of early modern philosophy, philosophy and Sufism in the Islamic world, African philosophy and literature, twentieth-century French philosophy.

    Abstract: Translatio studiorum is the medieval phrase for the migration/transmission of Greek philosophy and sciences. We will be reminded, against a Eurocentric reconstruction of the history of philosophy as uniquely Western, that translatio studiorum went through Nishapur, Baghdad, Cordoba, Fez, Timbuktu, among other places. We will reflect on the significance of the translation of Greek philosophy into Islamic imaginaries and languages with a particular emphasis on translatio studiorum in Africa.

  • Gikandi, Simon

    • Simon Gikandi
    • Department of English, Princeton University
    • Abstract Title: This Thing that is Called Africa: Translation and the Work of the “Untutored” Intellectuals

    Bio: Simon Gikandi is Robert Schirmer Professor and Chair of English at Princeton University, where he is also affiliated with the Departments of Comparative Literature and African American Studies and the Program in African Studies. Before that he was Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor of English at the University of Michigan and the director of the Program in Comparative Literature. Gikandi was elected second vice president of the Modern Language Association (MLA) in December 2016. He was the first vice-president of the MLA in 2018 and became the association's president in 2019. He served as editor of PMLA, the official journal of the MLA, from 2011 to 2016. Born in Nyeri, Kenya, Gikandi earned his B.A. in literature, with first-class honors from the University of Nairobi. As a British Council Scholar at the University of Edinburgh, he graduated with an MLitt in English studies. He has a Ph.D. in English from Northwestern University. Gikandi's major fields of research and teaching are Anglophone literatures and cultures of Africa, India, the Caribbean, and postcolonial Britain; literary and critical theory; the black Atlantic and the African diaspora; and the English novel. His current research projects are on slavery and modernity, African philology, and cultures of the novel. He is the author of many books and articles, including Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean LiteratureMaps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism; and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, a Choice Outstanding Academic Publication for 2004. He is the co-author of The Columbia Guide to East African Literature in English since 1945, the editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of African Literature, and the co-editor of The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature. His book Slavery and the Culture of Taste was the winner of the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Award; winner of the Melville J. Herskovits Award, given by the African Studies Association for the most important scholarly work in African studies; and a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. He is the editor of The Novel in Africa and the Caribbean since 1950, volume 11 of the Oxford History of the Novel in English. 

    Gikandi is the recipient of a number of awards, including the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University (2014), a Guggenheim fellowship (2001), and an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship (1989). He has also received fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Gikandi was awarded the Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities at Princeton University in 2017. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018. 

    Abstract:  For most of the colonial period, beginning in the late 19th century and continuing into the age of decolonization after World War II, the meaning of Africa depended on translation as both a cultural and linguistic gesture. Missionaries, colonial officials, and anthropologists set out to translate the continent into an idiom that would be intelligible and compatible with their respective missions. In translation, new African subjects were produced, a public sphere defined, and a literary culture established. In this lecture, I will map out the nature of these gestures of translation, the major actors, and the implications for future knowledge about Africa. I will focus primarily on the role of “vernacular” or “untutored” intellectuals who, writing outside the institution of the university and in African languages, defied their role as native informants and established the African public sphere as we know it today.

  • Goldberg, Beryl

    • Beryl Goldberg
    • Photojournalist, New York
    • Abstract Title: Burkina-Faso Portraits: Three Families From 1972 to the Present

    Bio: Based in New York City, Beryl Goldberg has traveled around the world on assignment for various international organizations and major publishers. Her clients have included UN agencies, the New York Times and Planned Parenthood. Her photos have been exhibited here in the United States, as well as Canada, Great Britain, and Norway. She has had one-woman shows and spoken to classes at Rutgers University, Lehmann College, SUNY- Oneonta among others. Beryl Goldberg is a graduate of Douglass College of Rutgers University. She also did graduate work at New York University, studied French at the University of Bordeaux, and Arabic at the Bourguiba School in Tunisia. She studied photography with Harold Feinstein and Lisette Model.

    Abstract: Starting in 1972 this series of photographs presents aspects of the daily life of three families in Burkina Faso, West Africa. The parents were all market people from rural villages. Today many of the younger generations are sophisticated, well-educated members of the wired, urban environment. Some of them have become part of the African diaspora, living abroad in France, Italy and the United States. Viewing the photos we can learn much about women’s lives, the role of education and community. The photos stand on their own as powerful and honest images of real people.

  • Kiasha Naidoo

    • Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape
    • Abstract Title: The Analogy of Contagion in Race and Neoliberalism: A Tale from South Africa

    Bio: Kiasha Naidoo is a Philosophy student and a Fellow at the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa.


    Abstract: The year 2020 has seen two large social issues come to the fore, the COVID-19 pandemic and racism. In reading contagion and racism alongside one another as they have historically played out in South Africa, we can come to understand the nature of the prevailing neoliberal world order as using race as a mechanism for extractive relations and as one which ultimately remains willing to sacrifice human life and well-being in general. We can consider how assumptions such as individualism and meritocracy have made neoliberal institutions unable to put in place measures necessary for the safety of citizens. Such failures show an inability to promote well-being — the commonly cited impetus of neoliberal capitalist policies and actions.

  • Kuntar, Salam Al

    • Salam Al Kuntar
    • Department of Classics, Rutgers University
    • Abstract Title: The Displacement of Artifacts from the Middle East and North Africa: Past and Present

    Bio: Salam Al Kuntar is a Lecturer Assistant Professor of Archaeology at Rutgers’s Department of Classics. University. She worked at the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) in Syria in a number of capacities from 1996-2012. She has extensive museum and archaeological fieldwork experience. Since 2012, she has been active in the field of cultural heritage preservation. Salam is a National Geographic explorer, a consulting scholar at the Penn Museum and the chair of SIMAT (Syrians for Heritage), a non-profit association for heritage preservation based in Berlin.

    Abstract: The complex issue of whether cultural artifacts in Western museums taken during the colonialist periods should remain or be returned to their place of origin continues to be a heated debate. Is it appropriate to apply today’s legal and ethical standards to the practices of artifact removal in the past? And if so, where do we draw a line? The 1970 UNESCO convention, which draws a line, has not been satisfactory to southern nations. In my presentation, I talk about artifacts taken from the Middle East and North Africa during the colonist era and discuss the issue of repatriation. I will also talk about the looting of artifacts from museums and archaeological sites during recent conflict and its relation to the illicit trafficking of antiquities to Western markets and new markets elsewhere.

  • Lagnaoui, Tarik

    • Tarik Lagnaoui
    • French Department, Rutgers University
    • Abstract Title: Souleymane Bachir Diagne's Reflections on the Implications of Translation on Philosophy and Religion in Northwestern Africa

    Bio: Tarik Lagnaoui was born in Rabat, Morocco in North Africa. As a teenager, he moved to France where he spent many years, then came to the US in a cultural exchange program for the teaching of languages in Minnesota. After traveling and trying many professions, he went back to school at the University of Alaska where he received a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts. After that, Tarik studied mathematics and received a Masters from the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He taught college mathematics for 13 years while attending graduate school in French at Montclair State University. He is now a Ph.D. student in French and Francophone literature and culture at Rutgers University since the fall of 2019. His research interests include francophone literature from North Africa and the Middle East, drawing from a millennial literary and philosophical tradition as well as from modern literary forms. His interests also include the intersection of philosophy and literature in twentieth-century France.  

    Abstract: Thinking “translating Africa” from within a western university implies a comparative approach that considers the reception of African thought in the west or from the west. Such a topic is therefore hardly conceivable without envisaging a contrast or a comparison of certain aspects of the African intellectual tradition with some similar aspects encountered in the west.  “Translating Africa” becomes then in a sense “Translating Africa to and from the West”. Souleymane Bachir Diagne, the Senegalese philosopher, approaches the question from a religious and philosophical angle. Being an expert in Islamic thought, he examines the intellectual exchanges between north and south, by retracing the historical conversation between Muslim philosophers and their western homologues. In his view, putting emphasis on the rich philosophical tradition of Muslim scholars helps shed light on aspects often forgotten. These aspects according to him engaged reason for a conciliatory stance. He notices, for example, that modern colonial discourse often portrayed the Sahara desert as a zone of exclusion, splitting West Africa into two parts on one side a mysterious “oriental north” difficult to understand, and on the other an “unwritten south” left to western ethnographers to “decipher”. Souleymane Bachir Diagne on the contrary, considers the Sahara desert as a historic space of exchange, culturally and intellectually. This exchange played a vibrant role in keeping the continuum alive between these two regions of Africa. 

  • Mohammed, Wunpini Fatimata

    • Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed
    • College of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Georgia
    • Abstract Title: Mediated Translations: Theorizing African Languages and Indigenous Knowledge Systems

    Bio: Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed is an assistant professor of global media at the College of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She is co-editor of the book, African Women in Digital Spaces: Redefining Social Movements on the Continent and in the Diaspora (forthcoming 2021). Her research which focuses on feminisms, broadcast media, indigenous language media, development communication, and political economy of communication have appeared in the Howard Journal of Communications, Journal of Radio & Audio Media, and ADA: A Journal of Gender, New Media & Technology. She has worked as a radio journalist in Ghana for several years and has done some public scholarship on Al JazeeraAfrica is a countryGlobal Voices,Okay Africa, and several Ghanaian media platforms including the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.

    Abstract: While there is an extensive body of literature on English language media production, distribution and reception in Ghana, very little research has focused on indigenous African language media. This essay examines the importance of translation in supporting the production of media in African countries like Ghana. I argue that translation not only makes knowledge available in other languages but supports the documentation of indigenous knowledge systems in the academy. Translation in this vein is both a methodological and theoretical undertaking that constantly questions the legitimacy of the Western canon while demonstrating the embeddedness of resistance in indigenous African languages. I draw extensively on indigenous African knowledge systems to present various strategies of translation in my research and how translation manifests in the findings of my research on indigenous language media in Ghana. I assert that to build on the knowledge of Africa in translation it is imperative to take into consideration the importance of multidisciplinary research. My work on translating Africa within the context of media raises questions about what constitutes knowledge, what knowledge systems are valued, and the ways in which we can inadvertently participate in the erasure of the existence of indigenous African communities in media research. To hinge my work on indigenous African knowledge systems means that my work in documenting the media histories of communities in Northern Ghana merely supplements the already existing oral epistemological systems that have preserved and transmitted knowledge from generation to generation.

  • Msia Kibona Clark

    • Msia Clark
    • Department of African Studies, Howard University
    • Abstract Title: Hashtags and Feminism: African Women and Activism in Social Media Spaces

    Bio: Msia Clark is an Associate Professor in the Department of African Studies at Howard University. Her work has focused on popular culture, migration, and gender studies. Dr. Clark has written numerous scholarly publications, including three edited manuscripts and over a half dozen articles and book chapters on both popular culture in Africa and on African migrant experiences. Her published books include Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati (2014), Hip-Hop in Africa: Prophets of the City & Dusty Foot Philosophers (2018), and Pan African Spaces: Essays on Black Transnationalism (2018). Her more recent articles and book chapters include “The Contemporary African Diaspora”, “The Evolution of a Bicultural Identity, in the Shadows of Nyerere’s Pan Africanism'', and the forthcoming “African Women and Hip-Hop in the Diaspora”. Along with her research interests, Dr. Clark created and teaches the courses “Black Women & Popular Culture '' and” Hip Hop & Social Change in Africa” at Howard University. She (along with her students) produces the Hip-Hop African blog and monthly podcast hosted at hiphopafrican.com. The blog and podcast explore a variety of topics related to hip hop in Africa and includes interviews with artists, activists, and scholars.

    Abstract: Several social media campaigns have emerged in the last five years, which have been centered on, begun, and led by African women. This paper looks at how African women activists are using social media to communicate specific narratives of African women. The paper looks at social media campaigns collectively, to examine similar themes, dynamics, and cultural contexts that they share. What trends similarities do we see in the ways African women activists are using social media spaces to communicate feminist critiques of social issues? What do similarities in those critiques tell us about trajectories of African feminist thought? What is the significance of witnessing African women activists in conversation with one another, in real-time? This paper will focus on how African women activists are communicating resistance to patriarchy and violence against women, addressing racism, and are celebrating African women. The movements are also connected to African feminist scholarship, with the scholarship informing the movements and the movements informing the scholarship. Likewise, African feminist scholars are often both academics and activists, while African feminist activists are producing important scholarship that contributes to African feminist thought.

  • Mukherjee, Madhuri

    • Madhuri Mukherjee
    • Department of Languages and Cultures, William Paterson University

    Madhuri Mukherjee earned her Ph.D in French from Rutgers. She is an Associate professor at William Paterson University. In addition to translating Sinzo Aanza’s Plaidorie pour vendre le Congo, she has translated Malagasy cultural anthropologist Bodo Ravololomanga’s Sambatra Antambahiaka a Mananjary: Rituel ancestral pour la Cohésion et la Réconciliation, an essay about the ritual of mass circumcisions that takes place once every seven years in the town of Mananjary in Madagascar, where Madhuri served in 2020-2021 as a volunteer with the Peace Corps.

  • Ndoro, Tariro

    • Tariro Ndoro
    • Poet and Storyteller, Zimbabwe
    • Abstract Title: Disobedient Poetics: The Making of Agringada: Like a Gringa, Like a Foreigner

    Bio: Tariro Ndoro, a Zimbabwean poet and storyteller is the author of Agringada: Like a Gringa, Like a Foreigner (Modjaji Books, 2019). She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Rhodes University in South Africa. Her poetry has appeared in various publications including 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary PoetryBest New Poets 2015 AnthologyCyphersKotazNew CoinNew Contrast, Oxford PoetryPoetry International and Puerto del Sol and Cyphers. Tariro was shortlisted for the 2018 BN Poetry Prize and was awarded second place for the 2017 DALRO Poetry Prize.

    Abstract: In her debut poetry collection, Agringada: Like a Gringa, Like a Foreigner (2019), Zimbabwean writer Tariro Ndoro investigates the identity politics of the “other” against a southern African backdrop. Agringada is a bildungsroman detailing the life of a female narrator as she tackles racism, classism, misogyny, and xenophobia through the use and disuse of language, and in some instances, silence. In this essay, she details the role of colonialism as both a political and cultural act in the shaping of post-colonial narratives, as it was the act of cultural colonization of Africa by the West that resulted in the fragmented lingua francas that are appearing in today’s African literature. She further details that the use of disobedient poetics (straying from the standard English language) since the focal point of her argument is not so much the translation of African works for Western audiences but the translation of cultural experiences of African writers into their own disobedient poetics. British colonial authorities began policing Africans through languages, which had an effect on the narrative voices of Zimbabwean writers including Dambudzo Marechera and Yvonne Vera, who in turn subverted the English language for their own purposes. Both of their life experiences translated to their use and (dis)use of the English language. Following Amiri Baraka’s assertion that language is culture, this essay details postcolonial African writers’ narratives in both content and form while reflecting fragmentations between both the imposed and native language and identity.

    Currently, African poetry is experiencing a shift in the movement of its writing from traditional prose and poetry to more experimental forms used by writers such as Momtaza Mehri, Safia Elhillo, and Koleka Putuma. Most of Africa’s young poets are using unique and novel ways to express thought. Although Arthur Rimbaud asserts the need for a universal (poetic) language in his letter to Paul Demeny and Amiri Baraka found what he called the black voice through jazz and blues, Ndoro asserts here that contemporary African writers translate their own experiences differently. Moreover, each writer’s history informs their poetics and, by extension, the way in which they should be read. 

  • Ngom, Fallou

    • Fallou Ngom
    • Department of Anthropology, Boston University
    • Abstract Title: African Ajami Manuscripts: New Sources of Global and Humanistic Perspectives

    Bio: Fallou Ngom is Professor of Anthropology and former Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University. His research focuses on the interactions between African languages and non-African languages, the adaptations of Islam in Africa, and African Ajami literatures (records of African languages written in Arabic script). He seeks to understand the knowledge buried in African Ajami literatures and the historical, social, cultural, and religious heritage that has found expression in this manner. He has held Fulbright, ACLS, and Guggenheim fellowships. His research has been supported by the British Library Endangered Archives Programme and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the founder and leader of the African Ajami Library at Boston University, the largest digital repository of Ajami texts in America. His work has appeared in African Studies Review, History Compass, Islamic Africa, Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Language Variation and Change, and International Journal of the Sociology of Language. His book, Muslims beyond the Arab World: The Odyssey of Ajami and the Muridyya (Oxford University Press, 2016), won the 2017 Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the best book in African studies.

    Abstract: Sub-Saharan African is generally misconstrued as largely illiterate due to the legacy of the Eurocentric tradition that defines literacy as the ability to read and write in European languages and the Roman script. Yet, millions of sub-Saharan Africans have been reading and writing various kinds of religious and non-religious texts in Arabic and their local languages using enriched forms of the Arabic script known as Ajami or locally invented scripts such as Ge’ez, Bamum, Nko, and other writing systems. This lecture focuses on African Ajami manuscripts and shows what scholars and students of Africa stand to gain by studying Ajami texts produced by both the elites and the masses across Africa. In this lecture, I hope to demonstrate how the study of African Ajami manuscripts will enhance research and teaching in the humanities and social sciences and force revisions of various aspects of our understanding of pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial Africa.

  • Paul Wenzel Geissler

    • Department of Anthropology, University of Oslo
    • Abstract Title: Covid-19, HIV and the Layers of African epidemy

    Bio: Paul Wenzel Geissler teaches social anthropology at the University of Oslo. He is particularly interested in 20th-century medicine and science in Africa, working across the boundary of anthropology and history. Among his books are The Land is Dying (Berghahn, 2011) with Prince, and Para-states and Medical Science (Duke, 2015). Together with Lachenal, Manton and Tousignant, he co-curated Traces of the Future. An archaeology of medical science in Africa (Intellect, 2016). https://www.sv.uio.no/sai/english/people/aca/paulwg/

    Abstract: After the “end of disease” (Dora Vargha) comes yet another disease. Epidemic narratives in 20th-century Africa are woven into a modernist epos of dramatic outbreaks and heroic struggles to control them. HIV/AIDS is part of a steady succession of African epidemics and anti-epidemic campaigns, preceded by infections like jaws and sleeping sickness, river blindness and malaria, and followed by chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The latest intruder, Covid-19, arrived to Kenya from Europe (neatly inverting familiar narratives of African contagious threats), just when the HIV epidemic crisis had morphed into one of several ‘emerging’ chronic diseases, including cancer, which has been described as a new African epidemic. We are interested in the traces that HIV has left behind, and how they relate to present and future epidemics, e.g.: clinical infrastructures and pharmaceutical residuals, technical equipment or mutated viruses, patient and community-based organisations and policies, specialised technical expertise and new professional cadres, graves and land-use patterns, identities, relations and collectivities. What is left behind after HIV and HIV intervention and experimentation, and what life (and disease) might spring from these remains? We discuss some of these epidemic and anti-epidemic layers, connections and ruptures, based on fieldwork in Western Kenya in the spring of 2020, at the onset of Covid-19.

  • Phetlhe, Keith

    • Keith Phetlhe
    • Department of African Literature and Film Studies, Ohio University
    • Abstract Title: Decolonization Nightmare?: Revisiting Anthropological and Missionary Colonial Translations of African Literature in Southern Africa

    Bio: Keith Phetlhe is a poet, translator, educator, and researcher from Botswana. His recent publication is Botlhodi: The Abomination, a translation of a postcolonial Setswana novel. He is the co-editor of an upcoming multilingual poetry anthology Harvested Requiems. His upcoming Setswana novel is Moswelatebele, also a translation. He currently studies at Ohio University where he pursues a Ph.D. in African Literature and Film Studies. His research interests are critical theory and translation, postcolonial theory, creative writing, African Languages and Literatures.

    Abstract: Translators and literary practitioners in postcolonial Africa continually encounter challenges in their efforts to decolonize cultural productions, which has led to further marginalization of literary translations from Southern Africa. This challenge is due to the dominance of the European languages spoken in the region that spread their colonial cultural aesthetics and suppressed, silenced, or destabilized the cultural narratives and languages of the former colonies. Translation practice was among the tools that were used by anthropologists and missionaries to suppress and further marginalize the literatures of minority ethnic groups in most regions in Southern Africa. These colonial translations were carried out by anthropologists who ‘sought’ to understand the African cultures and by the missionaries whose agenda was to spread Christianity. These political contexts of translation practice overlooked the application of relevant translational methods despite their debilitating effects on regional and ethnic literatures. By focusing on the analysis of translations by social anthropologist Isaac Schapera (including other Christian missionaries and commentators such as David Livingstone), I argue that Schapera’s translations depicted colonial attitude in the way they suppressed Setswana literature by textual appropriation and assimilation. The religious translations, on the other hand, were designed to delineate content that vilified Setswana culture, although widely used and consumed by the African societies. As a result, the task of decolonizing Southern African literatures such as Setswana remains a challenging ‘nightmare’ to translators because such works have been in circulation for a long time and espoused by critics as authoritative texts. This paper uses a blend of postcolonial and translation theories to advance an argument of what interventions must be put in place to undo the effects of subtle racism and reductionism inherent in the ethnographic translations by colonial missionaries and anthropologists to ensure diversity of local voices and languages. In their quest to produce such translations, it is clear that they were not concerned about empowering the narratives of the colonized but capitalized on their disempowerment. The intimidating question, therefore, is, how can we, as critics and scholars of translation, use these 'venomous' translations to prepare culturally relevant and empowering translations?

  • Razlogova, Elena

    • Elena Razlogova
    • Department of History, Concordia University
    • Abstract Title: The Liberation Politics of Live Translation: African Cinema in Soviet Tashkent-

    Bio: Elena Razlogova is an Associate Professor of History at Concordia University. She is the author of The Listener's Voice: Early Radio and the American Public (2011) and co-editor of “Radical Histories in Digital Culture” issue of the Radical History Review (2013). She has published articles on U.S. radio history, digital music recommendation and recognition algorithms, and film festivals and film translation in the Soviet Union. Her work on the translation and circulation of Global South cinemas in the Soviet Union came out in Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema, SubStance, and Studies in European Cinema, and is forthcoming in the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. She is currently working on a history of simultaneous film translation and transnational cinematic networks at Soviet film festivals in Moscow and Tashkent.

    Abstract: This talk analyzes decolonization-era African cinemas in multilingual translation at the Tashkent Festival of African, Asian, and Latin American Cinema, a biannual event that hosted hundreds of films and filmmakers from dozens of Global South countries between 1968 and 1988. Soviet interpreters translated films made in an array of colonial and indigenous languages live during projection: piped into the movie theater on top of the original soundtrack in Russian, transmitted via earphones into five official languages, and, at times, whispered privately as “chuchotage” in indigenous languages of various guests. The Tashkent festival was the most ambitious multilingual film translation project of its era. Simultaneous film translation enabled mass Soviet spectatorship of African cinema, as festival films traveled from major Tashkent film theaters to the “Soviet South”—other Uzbek cities and other Central Asian and Transcaucasian Soviet republics. Film translation and multilingual interaction at Tashkent also enabled South-South connections among festival guests. Senegalese Ousmane Sembène and Pauline Soumanu Vieyra, Désiré Ecaré, as well as filmmakers from Somalia, Ghana, Mali, Sudan, Mozambique and elsewhere on the continent, used their time at the festival to further their pan-African, Afro-Asian, and Tricontinental cinematic contacts and institutions.  These ties were especially important for ”Third Worldist” movements that aimed to use cinema as a weapon for liberation. The Soviet state aimed to position Soviet cinema as the model for film cultures of decolonization-era Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The varied South-South connections on Higher Education Curriculum on Gender and Transformative Leadership for African Universities and Civil Societies. African filmmakers forged at Tashkent transcended and contradicted the aims of Soviet cultural diplomacy.

  • Ruth Prince

    • Department of Medical Anthropology, University of Oslo
    • Abstract Title: Covid-19, HIV and the Layers of African epidemy

    Bio: Ruth Prince is Associate Professor in medical anthropology at the University of Oslo. She is leading a European Research Council project, Universal Health Coverage and the Public Good in Africa, which studies relations between healthcare, welfare, the state, and citizenship in Africa. Earlier work explored HIV interventions and global health, while recent publications focus on chronic disease, health insurance, and care. https://www.med.uio.no/helsam/english/research/projects/universal-health-coverage-africa/

    Abstract: After the “end of disease” (Dora Vargha) comes yet another disease. Epidemic narratives in 20th-century Africa are woven into a modernist epos of dramatic outbreaks and heroic struggles to control them. HIV/AIDS is part of a steady succession of African epidemics and anti-epidemic campaigns, preceded by infections like jaws and sleeping sickness, river blindness and malaria, and followed by chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The latest intruder, Covid-19, arrived to Kenya from Europe (neatly inverting familiar narratives of African contagious threats), just when the HIV epidemic crisis had morphed into one of several ‘emerging’ chronic diseases, including cancer, which has been described as a new African epidemic. We are interested in the traces that HIV has left behind, and how they relate to present and future epidemics, e.g.: clinical infrastructures and pharmaceutical residuals, technical equipment or mutated viruses, patient and community-based organisations and policies, specialised technical expertise and new professional cadres, graves and land-use patterns, identities, relations and collectivities. What is left behind after HIV and HIV intervention and experimentation, and what life (and disease) might spring from these remains? We discuss some of these epidemic and anti-epidemic layers, connections and ruptures, based on fieldwork in Western Kenya in the spring of 2020, at the onset of Covid-19.

  • Segun Afolabi

    • Faculty of Administration, Laval University
    • Abstract Title: Translation, Education and Publication: The African Perspective

    Bio: Segun Afolabi bagged a PhD in Translation Studies at Laval University, Canada, where he currently works as Research Fellow/Translator. He also serves as the Project Manager of CREDIT (Centre for Research & Development in Interpretation & Translation) whose mandate is to promote the professionalization and institutionalization of the twin disciplines in Nigeria, Africa and beyond. Dr. Afolabi's research interests cut across translation pedagogy, history of translation, sociology of translation, and translation for development. He has published on these subjects in reputable journals including The Interpreter and Translator & Trainer, Transletters and Meta. His latest book, La traduction et l'interprétation au Nigéria was published in 2020 by L'Harmattan in Paris. He is Co-editor of Tafsiri, a panafrican journal of translation and interpretation published by Le Grenier des savoirs, an organ of scienceafrique.org.


    Abstract: For Translation Studies (TS) scholars whose research interest touches the issue of translator training in particular, the trifold relationship between translation, education and publication (TEP) should necessarily be a matter of genuine concern. Conceptually, while we view translation as the entire process of language mediation (oral or written, intra or interlinguistic/semiotic, etc.), education is considered here as the process of training (and retraining) translators, including translator trainers; and publication refers to the process of sharing or disseminating knowledge, particularly, the results of research activities conducted on the last two concepts. In this paper, we will attempt to critically examine the situation with regard to these three concepts (translation, education and publication) globally, and more specifically in the African context. Using the analytical literature review approach, the research questions that we seek to answer are as follows:
    - Are translators been adequately trained in Africa?
    - What are the available translator training programmes across the continent?
    - What is the quantity of contributions on translator training in TS related publications in and/or on Africa?