Rhodes>Arts of Africa >Research Themes

Research Areas

The research in this programme focuses on visual and performing arts produced in Africa and various global south contexts (Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Zambia, Egypt, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Palestine and China) in order to shift the centre of gravity of the northern-driven global academy that shapes the dominant discourses of “contemporary global art” and “contemporary African art”. Areas of research include the following:

Space and Place as Conceptual Frameworks

  • Epistemologies of space and place
  • Problematic dichotomies between space and time
  • Ways of place-making, place-knowing and place-being
  • Space and place in relation to conceptualisations of Africa and the south
  • New site-specificities, art and performance
  • Art and the relationship between global flows and embedded contexts

Geopolitical shifts in art 

  • Myths of geographies and geopolitical issues of power
  • Globalization, geopolitics and art
  • Geo-epistemologies
  • Alternative forms of ground-up geopolitics
  • Cosmopolitanism/Afropolitanism and the arts
  • Rethinking ‘the local’ and parochialism 

 Situating Africa/Writing Africa 

  • Situating Africa in the south
  • Writing Africa from the south
  • Writing, positionality and the knowing subject
  • Issues of power in writing and publishing
  • Agency, narratives and counter-narratives
  • Writing and the politics of responsibility 

Global Souths 

  • South-south connections and strategies
  • The orientation of discourse in the arts
  • Africa in relation to various global souths
  • South Africa’s relationship to the rest of the continent
  • African relationships with China 

The curatorial turn, biennialisation and commodification 

  • Issues of power, privilege and curating
  • Critiques of “global art” and curating
  • New ways of curating in specific African contexts
  • Biennialisation and the mis-shaping of “contemporary African art”
  • Art fairs that fetishize Africa/the south versus being of Africa/the south 

The production of knowledge and the construction of discourse 

  • Beyond Art History cannons
  • Discourse and power in relation to Africa and various souths
  • The production of knowledge – ways of learning/un-learning
  • Shifting the centre of gravity of the global academy
  • Pedagogy and unlearning 



Last Modified: Wed, 08 Jan 2020 14:01:35 SAST