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Revising the Black Atlantic: African Diaspora Perspectives

STIAS Workshop

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An international colloquium

Published in 1993, Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness is unarguably one of the seminal critical texts of the twentieth century. Simultaneously repositioning and advancing established global race studies, it has contributed significantly to foregrounding and complicating (interpretations of) black epistemology and cultural ontologies. Yet, significant criticisms of the concept of the Black Atlantic (Patterson and Kelly 2005, Zeleza 2005) have highlighted a conceptually limited focus on Africa that has not just perpetuated the ideological marginalisation of the continent. Exposing “the very narrow and particular way in which Africa is used, signified” (2012) in this respect, Michelle M. Wright has more recently noted the ways in which, premised on a “linear progress narrative” (2015), canonical Black Atlantic studies tend toward reinstating normative and patriarchal, exclusory hierarchies of blackness.

In line with global south decolonial imperatives, this colloquium attempts to problematise and extend the traditional focus of the Black Atlantic to include African Diaspora perspectives on blackness. Foregrounding the continued contributions, primarily of literature(s) and philosophy in this regard, the colloquium will probe the limits of the Black Atlantic, conventionally conceived. Emphasising a revisionary, ‘Africanist’ focus in this regard, the event aims to realign (contemporary) African ideologies and materialities for more inclusive and expansive global understandings and visions of blackness.

Bringing together established and emerging scholars in the field of Humanities and the Social Sciences, the colloquium encourages comparative, transatlantic/transnational/transcultural readings of the Black Atlantic that complicate and enhance established views of blackness and Africa. Thirty-minute papers addressing, but not limited to, issues of ethnicity/race, gender, sexuality, intersectionality, identity /subjectivity from any angle, are invited.

Selected papers will be peer-reviewed for a special issue in an accredited journal or edited volume and for projected publication by end 2020.

Colloquium organiser: Dr Aretha Phiri, Senior Lecturer, Department of Literary Studies in English (DLSE) and Iso Lomso Research Fellow, Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), South Africa. Participation in this colloquium will be by invitation. STIAS will provide the colloquium venue, catering, local airport transfers and accommodation for up to 12 participants. STIAS welcomes home institution support for flight tickets, but will consider to cover travel costs of participants upon request.

The colloquium is supported by the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) as part of Dr Phiri’s Iso Lomso research project. Please visit the project page and the Iso Lomso fellowship page for more information.

Date and time

Thursday, 10 October 2019 —
Friday, 11 October 2019

All Day​

All times are in SAST (UTC+2)


STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre

STIAS, Marais Road, Mostertsdrift

Related to this event


Iso Lomso Fellow
South Africa


This project offers a fresh, comparative, transatlantic and transnational analysis of leading African-American author, Toni Morrison’s, work on blackness through the diasporic lens of contemporary female...


Journal Article

Phiri, Aretha. 2020. The race for reparation(s), the (im)possibility of repair in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull. Safundi, 21(1), 69–84.

Book/Book Chapter

Phiri, Aretha. 2020. Fingering the Jagged Grain: Rereading Afropolitanism (and Africa) in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go. In James Hodapp (Ed.), Afropolitan Literature as World Literature (1st ed.). Bloomsbury.

Book/Book Chapter

Phiri, Aretha. 2019. Lost in translation: re-reading the contemporary Afrodiasporic condition in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go. In Emilia María Durán-Almarza, Ananya Jahanara Kabir and Carla Rodriguez González (Eds.), Debating the Afropolitan (1st ed.). Routledge.


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