Revised abstract submission deadline:

In Search of our Shrines: Feminist Healing & the Politics of Love

The fourth edition of the African Feminisms(Afems) conference will be hosted from 27 –29August 2020 by the University of Cape Town (South Africa), in collaboration with the African Gender Institute, the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University and the De- partment of Visual Arts, Wits University.The 2020 African Feminisms conference theme is inspired by the work of South African author and activist, Mmatshilo Motsei to engage with and interrogate feminist healing, courage and the politics of love as responses to political, gendered and other forms of violence.The conference addresses alternative modes of knowledge production, ongoing implications of the divide between feminist theory and praxis, as well as intellectual and creative feminist strategies. What possibilities are offered by the multimodal, polyphonic, intersectional and deeply political work of feminist healing in societies that care little for women, queer and non-binary bodies and lives?In a time of ecological collapse, neoliberal modes of governance that extend across institutions, the intensification and resurgence of racist and sexist public cultures, what are the possibilities for building worlds that are life-giving? How can practices of feminist healing ‘teach best what we most yearn for’ to bring about ‘revolutions of love and courage’ (Pregs Govender, 2007). What are the worlds yet to be built? What worlds, already in existence but not recognised by ‘deadened bureau- cracies’ (Govender, 2007), can we build on and with for ‘renewal(s) of the soul’ (Motsei, 2007).Inspired by Mmatshilo Motsei and Pregs Govender, Afems 2020 welcomes submissions from all scholarly disciplines and fields including paper presentations, conversations, themed convened panels, video-screenings, creative displays, book launches, as well as self- and group-care sessions around:• Themed panels on Mmatshilo Motsei’s body of work, Pregs Govender’s Love and Courage: A Story of Insubordination (2007) and an intergenerational conversation between feminist curators and artists.• Speaking out – complaints and protests and institutional(ised) violence
  • Feminist and queer solidarity
  • Desire, sexuality and love as a political force
  • Histories and pedagogies of feminist care
  • Linguistic challenges, geopolitics and feminist solidarities
  • Feminist Affects
  • Space and embodied practices of care
  • Feminist Spirituality
  • Feminist Healing
  • Ecological Healing

Please email a 200 - 250 word abstract or proposal to by the 30th April 2020. Our website is and creative presentations are limited to 20 minutes, proposed panels and video screenings to one and a half hours.

Last Modified: Wed, 08 Apr 2020 21:56:29 SAST

Call For Papers for African Feminisms (Afems) 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency

5-7 September 2019, Wits University, Johannesburg

Organised by the Department of Visual Arts, Wits University and the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University

The third edition of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference will happen from the 5-7 September 2019 at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, in collaboration with the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University.

The 2019 theme is based on Nigerian Stiwanist Molara Ogundipe’s conversation in 2002 with South African black feminist Desiree Lewis in which Ogundipe states:

For me, social ideas should emerge from a consciousness that thinks of what is beneficial to a human being as a person, not because the ideas occurred or are practiced in Europe or America. We need to overcome our endemic inferiority complex towards Europe and things "white," successfully implanted since our colonial education and through its curricula. We should think from our epicentres of agency, looking for what is meaningful, progressive and useful to us as Africans, as we enrich ourselves with forerunning ideas from all over the world including Europe and America. ... I felt that as concerned African women we needed to focus on our areas of concern, socially and geographically. I am concerned with critical and social transformations of a positive nature in Africa, positive meaning, "being concerned with everything that maximises the quality of life of Africans and their potentials too".

This conversation highlights issues that continue to resonate with black-African-postcolonial feminists in Africa and beyond: lived experience as sites of knowledge; epistemologies tied to geo- specific bodies; long heterogenous world histories that co-exist with indigenous knowledges; cultural seepage; humanistic philosophical stances that refuse the ‘othering’ of Africa(ns) and claim our space and place in world-making; embodied thinking-doing; a plurality of feminisms that respond to the diversity of African women; the centrality of women in decolonial paradigms; an acknowledgement of acts of agency that define Africans on a daily basis; and a good dose of hopefulness for the future. For the 2019 Afems conference, we would like to issue a Call for Presentations around the idea of theorising from the epicentres of our agency, thinking through some of these areas:

  • What defines our epicentres?

  • What are the sites and range of ‘lived experiences’ that we are dealing with as we head towards the change of another decade and a fight back by what bell hooks has termed ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’?

  • What knowledges inform our centering and doing?

  • What does ‘theorising’ mean for black-African women?

  • How do we contest the colonial theory-praxis divide?

  • What role does creativities play in our world-thinking and world-making?

  • ‘Agency’ in Africa has so many connotations including the stereotype of the ‘development agency’. What does it mean ‘to have agency’? Does agency = active? What does it mean to be an agent or to be agentic?

  • How do we create change and organisations from the epicentres of the fields and the grassroots?

  • How does theorising from our geo-specific epicentres disrupt colonial paradigms and rethink decolonial epistemologies?

  • Can there be a centre without margins? Who are our margins as we look out from our epicentres?

  • How can we reach out from our diverse epicentres in our various countries in Africa across Anglophone/Lusophone/Francophone divides to each other and to sisters across the seas to have global conversations that respond to not only the global eco-capitalist crisis we are in, but to enrich the terrain of the human experiences we share?

    Afems 2019 welcomes presentations from all scholarly disciplines and fields including paper presentations, conversations, themed convened panels, creative interventions and displays, book launches, video screenings, performances, self- and group-care sessions. Paper and creative presentations are limited to 20 minutes, proposed panels and video screenings to 1 and a half hours.

    Send an abstract of your proposed presentation to: Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and should contain a title, your full name, affiliation, email address and mobile number.

    The deadline for all proposals will be: 31 March 2019.
    We will confirm acceptance of your presentation by no later than 15 May 2019.

    As always, all sessions are free and open to the university and general public. However, a registration fee of R500 will be charged to participants to cover the printing of the programme, drinks and meals (students can apply for a discounted rate of R250). Registration fees will have to be paid in advance of the conference and are non-refundable.

    The African Feminisms (Afems) Conference is hosted by the Art on our Mind research project run by Prof Sharlene Khan (Wits University) and the Urban Connections and Popular Imaginaries in Africa (UCAPI) research project run by Dr Lynda Spencer (Rhodes University).

    For more information, please contact Prof Khan or Dr Spencer on

Last Modified: Sat, 23 Feb 2019 14:46:08 SAST

Dr Aretha Phiri Awarded Iso Lomso Fellowship

‌   Dr Aretha Phiri

Dr Aretha Phiri


DR Aretha Phiri is one of five candidates out of over 250 applicants who has been awarded the prestigious inaugural Iso Lomso fellowship at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).

Iso Lomso, meaning “the Eye of Tomorrow” in isiXhosa, is a new STIAS fellowship and early career support programme that will boost the careers of some of the brightest minds in African academia. The programme was inspired by the Pro Futura Scientia programme, developed by the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study and is currently funded through a STIAS grant from the Swedish Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

In addition to spending up to three periods of residency at the STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre in Stellenbosch between 2017 and 2019 to pursue their research projects, Iso Lomso fellows may also receive funding to attend international conferences, convene workshops, and visit sister institutes for advanced study in North America, Europe or elsewhere.

Provisionally entitled, “Interrogating Blackness, Locating ‘Africanness’,” Aretha’s project considers the literary works of transnational African authors Zoë Wicomb, NoViolet Bulawayo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Taiye Selasi in response to African-American author Toni Morrison’s concerns around blackness. 

Last Modified: Mon, 15 Jan 2018 01:16:49 SAST