Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften



Herausgabe des Sammelbands zur Tagung aktuell in Vorbereitung



Crossings and Comparisons in African Literary and Cultural Studies

Humboldt University, Berlin, October 8-12, 2018




In the past decades, African literary and cultural productions have predominantly explored the notions of duality, binarity, hybridity, alterity, in varied dimensions; centre-periphery, colonised-coloniser, orality–written literature etc., triggered by historical landmarks like slavery, colonialism, postcolonialism, and migration. Cultural productions and theoretical debates have, validly, not only echoed the complexities of these times with regards to ethnicity, class, gender, but have also critiqued the repercussions of these indelible historical moments and movements on language, culture, identity, local and diaspora communities, and individual/collective memory. However, much of the work that has been done, so far, still puts African literatures and cultural productions in regional and linguistic boxes. There is an evident lack in comparative research that would open up new critical horizons from the perspective of cross-language, cross-regional and cross-theoretical studies. Therefore, this workshop aims to move beyond the trend of comparing African literatures within the realms of just one language (Francophone, Lusophone, Anglophone, Arabic and the diverse Afriphone literatures) to inspire a comparative scholarship of African literatures that cuts across all languages and regions of the continent, including the traditional, yet artificial ‘boundary’ of the Sahara.  There is an urgent need to put different schools of thinking and paradigms of literary theory into dialogue in order to advance African literary and cultural studies. The major aim of the workshop is, therefore, to cross over language barriers, regional settings, disciplines and theories.

We invite scholars and PhD students from our African partner universities in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Togo as well as colleagues/PhD students based in Berlin to take up the challenge and contribute reflections on cultural production in more than one language, on hermeneutic dualities and multiplicities in African literatures, theatre, cinema and performance arts. A critical assessment of ideological, theoretical, aesthetic, thematic and linguistic models that invoke categories of difference, but also similarities, should be highlighted in ways that they could possibly be put in conversation with one another and critically evaluated across genres and disciplines.

The workhop is sponsored by HU-Berlin's Kosmos programme and with further support by IAAW and KSBF. Speakers include guests from the universities of Nairobi, Ibadan, Stellenbosch, Lomé, Hannover, Mainz and FU Berlin.



Institute for Asian and African Studies


Invalidenstraße 118, room 315





Monday, 8 October 2018

During the Day



19:00 am-21:00 pm

Arrival of Participants



Opening Ceremony                                  

Welcome Addresses from

Baz Lecocq, Head of Department African Studies, Humboldt University

Sarah Hartmann, The Representative of the KOSMOS Initiative, Humboldt University Berlin

Susanne Gehrmann, Chair of African Literatures and Cultures, Humboldt University Berlin

Pepetual Mforbe Chiangong, Department of African Studies, Humboldt University Berlin


Multilingual Poetry Reading/Performance





Tuesday, 9 October 2018

9:00 am- 9:20 am


9:30 am -10:30 am

Light Breakfast at the Department of African Studies


Panel 1: Investigating Swahili/English Literatures: Distance and Interaction in East Africa


Miriam Maranga-Musonye (University of Nairobi) The Compartmentalization of Literature in Kiswahili and Literature in English


Lutz Diegner (Humboldt University Berlin) Wearing Two Kofia at the Same Time: Swahilanglophone Writing in East Africa


10.30 am -11:00 am

Coffee/Tea Break

11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Panel 2:  Reading across Languages, Genres and Histories


Lucia Weiss (Free University Berlin): The Representation of History in the Poetic Space: A Dialogic Reading of Boubacar Boris Diop and Mia Couto


Gbandé Daré (Université de Lomé) From Francophone Novel to Anglophone Film: Emmanuel Dongala’s Johnny chien méchant and Jean-Stéphane Sauvaires Johnny Mad Dog


Charlott Schönwetter (Humboldt University Berlin): Child Soldier Narratives in Children’s Literature. A Cross-Regional and Cross-Language Comparison


12:30 pm-13:30 pm

Lunch Break

13:30 pm-14:30 pm


Panel 3: Exploring Multilingual, Multi-ethnic and Multi-media Intersections in East-Africa


Godwin Siundu (University of Nairobi) BanianiMbayaKiatudawa: the Incomplete Otherness of the Asian in East African Media


Obala Musumba (Humboldt University Berlin) Linguistic Strategies in Fighting Gender Biases in Traditional Luo Community in Grace Ogot’s Miaha

14:30pm-15:00 pm

Coffee/Tea Break

15:00 pm -16:00 pm


Panel 4: Investigating Theoretical Challenges in Postcolonial and Media Studies


Ricarda de Haas (University of Vienna) The Im/possibility of Communication through Technology


Ellen Grünkemeier (Leibniz University Hannover) Postcolonial Cultural Studies- Merits and Demerits of Comparative Research and Teaching in African Literatures and Cultures


16:30 pm – 18:00 pm

Guided tour to the exposition “Unvergleichlich/Beyond Comparison” at the Bode Museum in Berlin, Am Kupfergraben, 10117 Berlin




Wednesday, 10 October 2018

9:00 am- 9:20 am


9.30 am-10:30 am

Light Breakfast at the Department of African Studies


Panel 5: Juxtaposing Anglophone/Francophone Representations in Cameroon Literature


Pepetual Mforbe Chiangong (Humboldt University Berlin) Political Practice and Irate Ironies in Cameroonian Literature: A  Cross-language Exploration of What God has Put Asunder by  Victor Epie Ngome and La Chèvre du Sous-Préfet

by Charles Soh


Clara Schumann (Humboldt University Berlin) A Gender-specific Survey of Migration Literature in English and French by Authors of Cameroonian Descent


10:30 am -11:00 am

Coffee/Tea Break



11:00 am -12:30 am

Panel  6: Reading Feminism across Languages


Eyiwumi Bolutito Olayinka (University of Ibadan) The Female Condition in the Interstices of Time and Space in African Novels: Cultural Divergences and Convergences in the Landscape of Women’s Oppression


Isabel Schröder (Humboldt University Berlin) Gender and Space in African Prison Literature. A Comparative Analysis of Calixthe Beyala’s Tut’appelleras Tanga and Petina Gappah’s The Book of Memory


Babatunde Ayeleru (University of Ibadan) Exploring the Linguistic and Cultural Interplay in Europhone West African Feminist Writings: Examples of Shoneyin, Fassinou and Koulibaly


12:30am-14.00 pm

Lunch Break


14:00 am-15:00 pm




Panel 7: Exploring South African Linguistic and Transnational Outreach


Uhuru Portia Phalafala (University of Stellenbosch/University of Michigan)   Restless Natives, Indigenous Languages  and Revolution


Tina Steiner (University of Stellenbosch) Voyaging to India in Pursuit of Peace. D.D.T. Jabavu’s Travelogue E-Indiayanase East Africa and the World Pacifist Meeting of 1949


15:00 pm - 15:30 pm

Coffee/Tea Break


15:30 pm- 17:30 pm

Screening of "Durch afrikanische Türen/ Through African Doors", a film project by Poliana Baumgarten, Marc Sebastian Eils, Manuela Goschy & Marine Lucina, based on the Janheinz Jahn archive at HU-Berlin


Roundtable in Honor of Jahnheinz Jahn (1918-1973)

with Interventions by Ibou Diop, Barbara Ischinger, Anja Oed & Almut Seiler-Dietrich, moderated by Flora Veit-Wild


Thursday, 11 October 2018

9:00 am -9:20 am


9:30 am -10:30 am

Light Breakfast at the Department of African Studies


Panel 8: Configuring Constellations of New/Old Genres in African Literature


Alex Nelungo Wanjala (University of Nairobi) The African Postcolonial Gothic


Aderemi Raji-Oyelade (University of Ibadan) Travelling Tongues, Aesthetic Collisions and Dis/junctions: Research in Postproverbial Discourse in African Studies


11:30 am-11:00 am

Coffee/Tea Break




11:00 am-13:00 pm

Panel 9 : Broadening Trajectories across the Franco/Anglophone World

Bernadette Desorbay (Humboldt University Berlin) New African Trajectories

Cullen Goldblatt (University of Grahamstown) Critical Humanisms on the Margins of African Literary Canons

Susanne Gehrmann (Humboldt University Berlin) When Mothers Become Lovers. The Metaphor of Belated Desire in Abasse Ndione’s Ramata and Abubakar Ibrahim’s Season of Crimson Blossoms

13:00 - 14:00 pm

Lunch Break


14:00 - 15:00 pm

Joint Open Discussion on Further Collaboration



Coffee Break


15:30 – 17:00

Workshops on Further Collaboration in Split Groups



Conference Dinner