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

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New Year Lecture 2021 held by Cluster’s Co-Spokesperson Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler


In January 2020, the annual New Year Lecture of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence was successfully launched. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 edition of the talk will be held as an online-only event and will focus on the topic of Polyrhythmic gestures in African arts. The Cluster’s Deputy Spokesperson Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler will be giving the lecture.

The concept of the annual New Year Lecture of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence stipulates to be one of the first Cluster events in the new year. “In establishing the annual New Year Lecture we wanted to create an official opening of the academic events of the year and welcome people back to the semester after winter break”, explains the Cluster's Dean Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann who presented the first New Year Lecture in January 2020. The launch of the new lecture format was successful and marked the one-year-anniversary of the Cluster’s existence. In it, the Cluster’s dean Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann talked about the “Reconfiguration of African Studies” – one of the Cluster’s main goals.

The 2021 New Year Lecture will take place on 14 January 2021 and will be held by the Cluster’s Deputy Spokesperson and Vice-Dean of Internationalisation and Public Engagement Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler. It is titled “Polyrhythmic gestures: Relational Perspectives on/from verbal, audio/visual and performative arts across the African continent”. With this lecture, Ute Fendler will engage with the key term of relationality by combining concepts from Glissant’s poetics of relation as well as from Deleuze’s polyrhythm, Benítez Rojo’s concept of “chaos” or Brathwaite’s “tidalectics”. All of them suggest ways of approaching multiple and complex ways of being in the world. The lecture puts them in dialogue with concepts suggested by Senghor on “rhythm” in the new readings by Bachir Diagne and also by Babacar M. Diop. During her presentation, Ute Fendler will be showing some examples from verbal, visual and performative art works displaying the entanglements between theory and practice, like for example poem/songs by Raharimanana from Madagascar (for a little taste of his performance klick here) music/films by Moussa Sène Absa (Senegal), and dance/calligraphy. 

The event’s introductory words will be given by Prof. Dr. Muyiwa Falaiye – director of the African Cluster Center of the Cluster of Excellence at the University of Lagos, Nigeria – and will be moderated by Dr. Gilbert Ndi Shang.

While the 2020 edition of the Lecture had a hybrid format – partly with people present, partly streamed online – in 2021 the New Year Lecture will be held online only. “Due to the current Corona restrictions we could not invite people to join us personally this year”, says Fendler, “nevertheless we would like to extend our heartfelt invitation for everybody to tune in online and hope for a great response of members, the interested public and affiliates in order to ring in the New Year appropriately.” It was meant to be a lecture with contribution by artists. The interactive and performative part will have to be postponed to a date that still has to be fixed. (sg)

Ute Fendler is the Vice-Dean of Internationalisation and Public Engagement of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence. She holds the chair of Romance and Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Bayreuth. She is a specialist in Francophone literatures and film in West Africa and the Indian Ocean and has published extensively on relational aspects in intermedial phenomenon, along with the organization and curation of dance and music performances linked to lectures.

  • Date: 14.01.2021, 4 p.m. (CET)
  • To tune into the event please follow this link.
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