Prof Mann to present keynote address in Venice

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Chris Mann, Honorary Professor of Poetry at Rhodes, will be in Italy this week to present the keynote address at an international conference on post-colonial literature. His address will provide a post-colonial perspective on a number of matters.

The paper will draw attention to the Greco-Latin language of the Roman Empire. Much of this was absorbed into English following the Norman colonization of Britain. The conceptual abstractions built into English and other post imperium languages dominate  law, governance, science and technology today.

He will also examine innovations in financial accounting and banking, such as double-entry book-keeping and war bonds, that took place in medieval and renaissance Italy. These contribute significantly to contemporary global accounting and banking practises, with mixed consequences for small scale cultures. 

The paper will also link the Roman Catholic doctrine of the communo sanctorum (‘blessed company of faithful people’) to indigenous concepts of the abaphantsi (‘ancestral shades’).

Drawing on recent findings of neural science, the paper will demystify and broaden the concept of the shades by presenting a model of understanding in which the shades are interpreted to be the episodic memories of people significant to an individual.   

Prof Mann will conclude with an outline of an inclusive poetics of belonging applicable to both rural and urban people.

The other writers such as Stanley Gazemba (Kenya) and Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopa) will reflect on the Italian colonial presence in Africa. Literature academics will look at perspectives of Italy in the work of writers from Ondaatje to Walcott. One will examine poetry by South Africans who fought in Italy during the Second World War.

The conference involves academics and writers from a number of northern and southern countries. Organised by the Università Ca’Foscari Venezia and the Università degli Studi di Torino, the conference will address the topic ‘Italy through post-colonial eyes’.

Source:  Communcations Division

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