2022 New Year Lecture by Peter Simatei: "Ways of Knowing Africa: African Literature and Shifting Imaginaries"
Online via Zoom
Each year, the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence starts its line of annual activities and events with the New Year Lecture open to the interested public, featuring prominent speakers who address questions and concepts central to the Cluster’s agenda. This year again, the COVID-19 pandemic forces us to move the New Year Lecture to a digital format. Even though we all got very much used to holding our events virtually, it is our sincere hope for 2022 that we will be able to return to meeting in person.
Director of the Moi African Cluster Centre, Professor of Comparative Literature, Dean, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya
Starting from the position posited by the Africa Multiple, that Africa is, and always has been, constituted through its ever-changing relations, globally entangled and in flux, this lecture broaches the subject of the role that African literature has played and continues to play in the reconstitution of ways of knowing Africa and in the production of new conceptions of African subjectivities, African ways of life and modes of relations.
The lecture proceeds from the understanding that literature’s engagement in world-making involves the construction of fictional spaces that either contest the existing ones or are relational to them. The lecture also explores how African literature questions and transforms current relations of power—whether these relations are subsumed under such categories as gender, religion, ethnicity, nation, class, or race—to call alternative temporalities into being. The talk concludes by focusing on African diasporic writings and their production of political and cultural realities that contest and transform relations based on national rootedness and territorial logic as it visualizes diasporic imaginaries and new poetics of relation.