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Methodological Work Towards a Contemporary African Ephemeral Literature Archive

The published novel is on the decline across the African continent. This is primarily because of increased costs of books and an almost universal roll-out of mobile phone access, which has transferred most people’s reading from paper to screen. Furthermore, African cities have always been rich sites for alternative literary cultures and forms. This is partly because of the colonial legacies of publishing and the novel on the continent, where colonial languages still dominate the book trade and where publishing houses are largely owned by large multinational corporations that impose western stylistic and aesthetic standards on books aimed at non-African readerships. The Contemporary Ephemeral African Literature Archive (CEALA) is an infrastructure project aimed at archiving and making searchable alternative literary cultures and forms (including street performances, community plays, zines, twitterature, instafiction, spoken word, recorded storytelling, comics, self-published books, and flash fiction). These forms are commonplace in African cities and yet remain largely unarchived because of the challenges this informal material presents to archivists and scholars alike. My time at STIAS aims to work through the methodological complexities of this material in order to provide a solid foundation for the creation of CEALA.


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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].