We trust this finds you well notwithstanding this moment we collectively find ourselves in. Our breath is now more than ever at the forefront of conversations. Fighting to breathe in the unequal struggle against COVID, protecting our breath as a preventative act for survival, and the recurring screams, “I can’t breathe,” of black bodies fighting for their right to exist in an antiblack world, are foremost in the safeguarding and upholding of black life. We trust that between Zoom meetings, the economic fallout of the pandemic, and all else you deal with in your life you are taking time to breathe deeply because breathing too, is activism and radical healing.
In this moment of collective anguish and activism, Kharnita Mohamed’s ( AFEMS 2019) words resonate: “There is something about this moment, about the intensity and intensification of violence we cannot hide from, we cannot rest from, retreat from. Not that we ever could, not if we were alert to the world.” The coronavirus felt like a collective trauma until we recognized the longstanding social violence that predisposes some to infection and death; until we were crudely reminded that black bodies continue to experience extrajudicial punishment by the police, and that womxn’s bodies continue to be found in ditches or hung on trees.
We invite you to join the AFEMS 2020 virtual community in reflecting on the refusals of this moment and in choosing feminist healing. Our online interventions are inspired by Mmatshilo Motsei when she writes:
“I choose not to throw up my arms in desperation asking the question: Baba senzani na? [ What have we done?]. Instead, I choose to raise my arms in gratitude ready to receive divine […] feminist opportunities ushered in by the era, of the moment.”
1. #AFEMSMoments – July, August, and September 2020:
2. AFEMS Digital Healing Circle – 17th September 2020:
Facilitated by Mmatshilo Motsei, this Zoom event will include a webinar, breakout sessions, a creative performance, and a feminist wine down. We will share registration information for the digital Zoom event on all our platforms by the end of August 2020.
To be Black, to be womxn, to be non-binary in this world is to live in refusal, in resilience, in a state of continuing to claim our breath. What supports your continued breathing through this moment?
We are excited to be in community with you and look forward to your engagement.
Our workshops are open to everyone who is interested to learn about editing Wikipedia, our focus is on increasing the number of Wikipedia entries presenting women-of-colour artists from different fields of creative and cultural production. We are collaborating with experienced Wikipedia editors or representatives of Wikimedia South Africa to facilitate workshops and give recommendations about our work.
Participants will learn how to create and upload new articles or to expand existing entries. We will draw from research generated by the Art on our Mind research project and participants will work together creating and expanding Wikipedia entries on artists and creatives. To prepare, please identify an artist or artist group whose entry you want to create or expand. Please bring your laptop as we will work online, editing and creating entries.
Wikipedia Workshop at Phototool Thursday, 5 March, 10-15h
The Wikipedia workshops at Phototool are run in collaboration with Art on our Mind, aiming to enable participants to upload new articles or to expand on existing entries. Phototool has been running a research project since 2016, entitled “Survey of Photography Training and Learning Initiatives on the African Continent” which plots a map of the photography training and learning initiatives that are currently operating in African coutries. In the workshop, we engaged with the research material which was generated by the project and participants learned how to generate references for Wikipedia entries. Participants also identified photographers/artists/creatives whose entry they helped to create or expand (individually or in group work).
As Wikipedia enters the voting age this year, we will look a bit closer at the online encyclopedia’s accountability and in terms of its race, gender, sexuality and other bias, to inquire what programmes are in place to educate and decolonise this space of global knowledge collection. For this panel, Afems has invited Wikimedia South Africa director Bobby Shabangu and Wiki Loves Women co-founder Isla Haddow-Flood to speak about recent efforts of Wikimedia South Africa to change the way the online spaces frame what is “knowlege” who has access and who owns it.
Bobby Shabangu is Wikimedia ZA director of projects since 2013. His editing activities on Wikipedia focus on the African continent and the Joburgpedia project which involves several institutions. He organises workshops for Wikipedia training and is part of the Community Process Steering Committee for the Wikimedia Foundation working on formulating the 2030 Movement strategy.
Isla Haddow-Flood is a writer, editor and project strategist who is passionate about harnessing communication technology and media platforms for the advancement of open access to knowledge; specifically, knowledge that relates to and enhances the understanding of Africa via the Open Movement (and especially Wikipedia). Since 2011, Isla has been working with members of the WikiAfrica movement to conceptualise and instigate #OpenAfrica, Kumusha Bus and WikiEntrepreneur. She is the co-leader of projects such as Wiki Loves Africa (an annual photographic contest), Kumusha Takes Wiki (citizen journalists in Africa collecting freely-licensed content). In 2016, Isla has co-lead the NGO Wiki In Africa to instigate Wiki Loves Women (content liberation project related to African Women), WikiFundi (an offline editing environment that mimics Wikipedia) and WikiChallenge African Schools (that introduces the next generation of editors to Wikipedia). She also volunteers her time to the Wikimedia Movement’s strategy process by being a Working Group member for Advocacy and is a member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Annual Plan Grant committee.
Wikipedia edit-a-thon Friday, 23 August 2019, 15h, Wits Writing Centre
Wikimedia Strategy 2030: Capacity Building and Diversity 2 August 2019, 15h, Wits Writing Centre
From the invite: Many people use Wikipedia as their first point of reference for their school research projects and general update on daily subject topics. The Wikimedia Foundation which runs Wikipedia would like to find out from you through a workshops which will be held in Johannesburg and Cape Town, how can they improve Wikipedia’s user interaction and how can they support content contribution so that it represent the diverse people who reads it, it’s a movement strategy which they aim to reach by year 2030 where Wikimedia content represents everyone who consumes and contributes to it. This will not be edit workshops but Salon Strategy where participants will discuss and take a short survey afterwards. So, we would like to invite you to take part in this Salon Strategy Survey. Over the next months Wikipedians around the world will be getting together to be part of this survey, so any ideas you have are very important to us. Come through! Even if you want to listen to how the conversation is going.
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”.
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.
The Art on our Mind experimental lab was facilitated by Prof Bhekizizwe Peterson (South African literature scholar and screen writer); Jon Alpert (American journalist and documentary filmmaker); Laura Andel (Argentine composer ); Vibha Galhotra (Indian visual artist); Sharlene Khan (visual artist) and Fouad Asfour (art writer and editor). 8-14 July2018 School of Fine Arts | Somerset Street Grahamstown, South Africa
The Black Feminist Killjoy Reading Group is run by Dr Sharlene Khan and the Art on our Mind research group. If you are interested in exploring fictional and non-fictional cultural practices of women killjoys of colour from around the globe – in order to think through our own lives – this reading group is for you.
Friends from outside of the department and field are most welcome.
Art on our Mind was located at Rhodes University from 2016-18, and moved to the Wits School of Art in 2019. The Reading Group will continue in both venues, please contact Prof Sharlene Khan for Joburg Reading Group meetings, or Zodwa Tutani, Viwe Madinda or Jodie Pather for meetings in Makhanda.
From 27-29 September 2018, Art on our Mind hosted the African Feminisms Conference (Afems), which featureed a retrospective of South African documentary filmmaker Shelley Barry, and the South African cuators’ conversation Curating as World-Making.
Started in 2017, the African Feminisms Conference (Afems) is an annual African feminist-centred dialogue and creative expression space, encouraging intellectual engagement and social networking. Afems provides a collaborative research platform for students and established scholars in Fine Arts and Literary Studies in English through the lens of African feminism.