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Call for submissions: Literature, Art and Environmental Imaginations in Africa

Eds. Philip Aghoghovwia and Hedley Twidle
Deadline: 20 January 2017

Established in 2015, Environmental Humanities South at the University of Cape Town is an inter-disciplinary project engaged in thinking towards a critical environmentalism that is centered in African contexts. As part of a three-part series on the African Anthropocene, the proposed collection will explore the role of the humanities and the creative arts as they engage questions of environmentalism and environmental justice on the continent.

We hope to create a volume exploring the rich and rapidly evolving terrain where questions of environmental thought and practice interact with imaginative writing, film, critical theory, the visual and performing arts. How have writers, artists and activists tried to bring the complex, multi-scalar and uneven effects of environmental problems into conceptual focus? What are the dimensions of environmental experience that literary, oral and visual forms allow us to apprehend – dimensions that are excluded from more specialized discourses? What are the forms, genres and key concepts of environmental consciousness in Africa? Which cultural texts might allow us to think towards a decolonial environmental imaginary? What new forms of ‘telling’ and ‘seeing’ are emerging within the present?

To ensure wide and varied coverage, we are looking for focused and provocative pieces of 1500-3000 words. These can be in a range of genres and mediums: from academic prose to more public essays, and may also include interviews, profiles, personal reflection, poetry, photography and other visual materials. We also intend to excerpt and anthologize existing key texts and contributions, so creating an essential and attractively designed sourcebook for university teachers and researchers on the African continent (and beyond) who are engaged in the field of the environmental humanities.

For new contributions, a concept note of 300-500 words should be sent by 20 January 2017 to: and  

An initial workshop for the project, to be held in Cape Town, is planned for March 2017. Other writing workshops / residencies will be held during the year, with final contributions due in late 2017, and publication planned for 2018.  

Please also contact us if you are interested in presenting work in progress at the Environmental Humanities seminar programme which will run in 2017.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Funded by an NIHSS National Catalytic Research Grant to seed research on the Humanities and the Anthropocene in Africa

Possible themes, topics and ideas:

Suggested topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Climate change, Africa and the Anthropocene
  • ‘Slow violence’, environmental degradation and representation
  • Oratures, oral history and environmental change
  • Oceanic studies, shorelines and the littoral zone
  • Environmental autobiography, life-writing and the ‘movement memoir’
  • The arts of environmental activism
  • Narratives of land, dispossession and restitution
  • Water, drought and literary form
  • Writing environmentalism, race, and environmental (in)justice
  • Environmental defenders, campaigns and cultures of resistance
  • Ecocritical or environmentalist (re)readings of the African canon
  • Speculative fiction, ‘cli-fi’, Afro-futurism and apocalypticism
  • Theorizing environmentalism and decolonization
  • Ecocriticism and the postcolonial
  • Petro-modernity, the energy humanities and the oil encounter
  • Environments, religious practices and the sacred
  • African environmentalisms in/and the novel
  • Writing urban and everyday ‘environments’
  • Literatures of space, place and displacement
  • Questions of ‘world literature’, global imaginaries and planetary scale
  • Representing extractivism, fracking and resource conflicts
  • Environmental documentary and photography in Africa
  • Understanding the afterlives of mining
  • The environmental essay, long form journalism and narrative non-fiction
  • Media, public science writing and the making of environmental communities
  • Questions of public science writing and the rhetoric of environmentalism
  • ‘Commodity biography’, consumerism, the social life of things
  • Literatures of food, seed and soil
  • Cultures of conservation, ‘protected areas’ and contestation
  • Literary and artistic engagements with the ‘indigenous’ and the ‘alien’
  • Environmental timescales, temporalites and deep time
  • Reading and writing infrastructure; cultures of the road and mobility
  • Nuclearity and the politics of nuclear waste disposal in Africa
  • Landscapes of war and the aftermath
  • The life of junk: waste, literature and culture