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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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© Clarissa Vierke

Multiple Artworks - Multiple Indian Ocean

Research Team


The project focuses on the multi-layered co-presence and circulation of verbal arts in relation to narratives, imagery, and sound travelling the Indian Ocean. In line with the cluster’s agenda of multiplicity, we do not conceive of literary works as neatly delineated units, but as internally multiple and dynamic configurations in relation to other literary works and artworks. Taking into account networks of literary multilingualism and going beyond the monolingual straitjacket of modern literary histories and disciplinary boundaries that partition Luso- and Francophone literature from Swahili and Arabic, we adopt a multi-sited and multilingual approach. Bringing in our joint competences, we aim to, firstly, focus on the multilingual (foremost French, Portuguese, Swahili and Arabic) and multimedial practices of authors, the dynamic configuration of imagery, narratives and sounds in specific works and their relationship to other media and art forms (foremost film, music, installation). Secondly, beyond any dichotomy of centre and periphery, we follow the circulation of sounds, imagery and narratives across our sites of research (foremost Comoros, Mozambique, Mauritius, La Réunion, Zanzibar and Oman) to view the entanglements and co-constitution of French, Portuguese and Swahili literary productions. Our main question, which speaks to the Research Section’s interest in practices of worlding, is: Which multiple world(s) do literature and other artworks inhabit, imagine and construct? Our joint project focuses on the Indian Ocean, which lends itself to theorize artworks as multiple configurations that inhabit many worlds, which do not belong to one timeline, space, language and medium. At the same time, through an aesthetic approach, we will take previous debates in Indian Ocean studies as well as postcolonial studies further. 

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