African Feminisms (Afems) 2023 Call for Presentations

Our Sisters Killjoy

Hosted by Rhodes University Department of Literary Studies in English and the Wits University Department of Fine Arts

Date: 6-8 July 2023
Venue: Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa

In 1977, Ghanaian novelist Ama Ata Aidoo published her book Our Sister Killjoy: Or Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint. In it Sissie arrives on a fellowship in Germany. Her observations of white colonial culture, of relations between black and white subjects and historical collisions and disjunctures, even relationships between African men and women come under her incisive interrogation and tongue. Both in form and in content, Sissie heralds a break with convention,  demonstrating that African subjects have always been speaking and not always in the politeness that some would prefer. Jean Paul Sartre (1948) in Orphée Noir said, “What then did you expect when you unbound the gag that muted those black mouths? That they would chant your praises? Did you think that when those heads that our fathers had forcibly bowed down to the ground were raised again, you would find adoration in their eyes?” Angry black women, sassy black women, too loud, too vocal abound as stereotypes in culture – women who do not know their place. bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Sara Ahmed, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Stella Nyanzi, Peace Kiguwa all talk about how the angry black women stereotype is used to silence subjects and, yet, as Lorde tells us, anger is a reasonable response to injustice. In a world coping with the stark inequalities that COVID-19 has thrown into view, our sisters across the continent and world have every reason to be angry, and they are more vocal than ever. In this fifth anniversary edition of the African Feminisms (Afems) Conference, which will be hosted by the Rhodes University Department of Literary Studies in English and the Wits University Department of Fine Arts, Afems 2023 will return to its birth at Rhodes University and celebrate Our Sisters Killjoy – feminist killjoys, black feminist killjoys, queer killjoys, differently-abled killjoys, eco killjoys, creative killjoys, anti-capitalist killjoys, speaking-truth-to-power killjoys, everyday killjoys, chick-lit killjoys, comedic killjoys and more …

​Conference presentations can include the following thematic areas:

  • On being angry black women
  • Back talk: Speech acts, speaking truths to power and ‘the mute always speak’
  • Nervous Conditions: Radical negativities and radical refusals
  • Testimony as witnessing – or ‘theorising from the epicentres of our agency’
  • Willful Subjects
  • Creativities as sites of de-authorisation, as de-archiving, of de-inscription and decolonisation
  • I Write What I Like
  • Onwards: Moving forward with ‘six mountains on her back’
  • Butterflies Burning
  • Madams and Mistresses
  • Intersecting intersectionalities or refusing either/or positionalities
  • So Long a Letter: on love and sister-killjoys
  • David’s Story: or actually a story about a history of women
  • So you think you’re funny, eh?
  • Murder She Wrote: Women in Crime/ Women and Crime

Afems 2023 aims to bring together a range of local and international African feminist scholars in the Sciences, Social Sciences, Economics, Law and Humanities disciplines in a three-day conference. Registration fee for all participants and attendees is R500 (R250 for students). Participants can present up to 20 minute papers, performative lectures or creative engagements. As is the format of Afems, creativities will form a central component.

Send abstracts of no more than 250 words by 21 April to The abstract should contain the provisional title of the presentation (the format of the presentation needs to be outlined, i.e., paper presentation, performative lecture, creative presentation) and details on the presentation. Performative and creative presentations must be accompanied with details on equipment or venue needs (please note, the conference is not able to provide materials, specialist needs or honoraria).

For more info on Afems 2023, please see:

Afems 2023 Team

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