African Feminisms (Afems) 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency
5-7 September 2019, Wits University, Johannesburg
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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 occurred 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 ws 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”.
Keynote speakers: Patricia McFadden, Kharnita Mohamed, Lynda Gichanda Spencer and Sharlene Khan
Kharnita Mohamed lectures in Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town. She is working on a PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of the Western Cape. She has a Masters in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Her research is focused on disability, race and gender towards developing a conceptual framework for a decolonial feminist disability studies. She was raised on the Cape Flats and is frequently confounded by the contradictions of inhabiting postapartheid South Africa. Her debut novel Called to Song was published by Kwela in 2018.
Patricia McFadden is a Radical African Eco-feminist who aspires to a life of Freedom and Joy. She is vegan and produces most of her own organic food on a mountain in eastern Swaziland. Her most recent publications are ‘Women’s Freedoms are the Heart Beat of Africa’s future: a Sankarian Imperative’ in A Certain Amount of Madness, the life, politics and legacies of Thomas Sankara, 2018; ‘Contemporarity: sufficiency in a Radical African Feminist Life’, in the journal Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, 2018.
Lynda Gichanda Spencer is Associate Professor at the Department of Literary Studies in English at Rhodes University and is principal investigator of the UCAPI Research Group, concerned with African popular modes of representation and interpretation, and especially with the ways in which local specificities and global imaginaries are articulated through popular genres. It seeks to engage critically with various knowledge productions that are embedded in local cultural forms.
Sharlene Khan is a visual artist whose multi-media works focus on the socio-political realities of a post-apartheid society and the intersectionality of race-gender-class. She was a recipient of the Rockefeller Bellagio Visual Arts residency (2009), the Canon Collins/Commonwealth Scholarship (2011), the African Humanities Post-doctoral Fellowship (2017), the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences Award for Visual Arts (2018) and was runner-up winner in the Videokunst Preis Bremen video art award (2015). She has published three books on her artwork: What I look like, What I feel like (2009), I Make Art (2017) and When the moon waxes red…(2018). She is co-convenor of the annual African Feminisms (Afems) Conference; and runs the NRF-Thuthuka funded Art on our Mind Research Project; the bi-weekly Black Feminist Killjoy Reading Group and the Decolonial AestheSis Creative Lab. She holds a PhD (Arts) from Goldsmiths, University of London and is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Fine Arts, Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg.