The African languages, literatures and cultures network (@AfCultures), Queer Intersections Oxford (@QIO) and Intersectional Humanities are delighted to invite you to two online research seminars on weeks 6 and 7 on Advancements and future directions in queer African studies
Session 2: week 7, Thursday 29 February 2024 – 5pm
The seminar is open to all and free to attend, but registration is compulsory and can be done through Eventbrite here soon.
Organised by @AfOx visiting fellow, Gibson Ncube
The two discussion will be chaired by Gibson Ncube and @AfCultures co-convenor Dorothée Boulanger
This seminar series provides a dynamic platform for postgraduate students and early-career scholars working in the field of Queer African Studies. This two-part series aims to showcase groundbreaking work and seeks to foster interdisciplinary discussions and promote critical reflections on the multifaceted intersections of queer identities, activism, and narratives in African context. Panelists will explore emerging research, share insights, and collaboratively contribute to understanding and shaping the complex and diverse landscape of queer experiences in Africa.
Mami Wata and Gender Fluidities in Contemporary Nigerian Literature
Megan E. Fourqurean, Leeds University (UK)
This paper is based on my doctoral research which examines representations of gender nonconformity in three contemporary Nigerian novels: The Virgin of Flames (2007) by Chris Abani, and Freshwater (2018) and The Death of Vivek Oji (2020) by Akwaeke Emezi. I read each of these texts through the lens of Mami Wata, a West African ‘transcendent, transformative, transcultural, transnational, transgendered, and trans-Atlantic’ (Drewal et al., 295) water deity whose worship now straddles the Atlantic. My research considers how both authors employ Mami Wata as a vehicle for thinking through and with gender identity beyond post-Enlightenment biomedical and psychoanalytic models. I suggest that by locating their narratives of gender nonconformity within the Mami Wata figure, these novels imagine queer African futures which encompass the affiliative relations between people, places and spirits. Thus, I argue that Mami Wata offers avenues for rethinking not only the boundaries of kinship and tradition, but of gendered and gender nonconforming embodiment itself.
Spiritual Embodiment and Human Sexuality among Sangomas in South African Townships
Nojenda Zwelidumile Ndungane, Stellenbosch University (South Africa)
This paper examines how practices like Ubungoma (Ancestral Initiation), Horellwa (Naming Rituals), and the Igbo/Yoruba concept of Ogbanje/Abiko (A Spirit that comes and goes) serve as sites for negotiating and expressing queer identities. Focusing on South African townships, particularly among sangomas (traditional healers/diviners), it explores the intricate connections between spirituality, gender, and sexuality. Through an examination of Zandile Nkabinde’s Blackbull, Ancestors and Me, this paper draws on storytelling to illuminate how everyday experiences of queer individuals contribute to knowledge production. Through the lens of Black queer joy, it investigates how spiritual embodiment influences human sexuality and shapes queer experiences in townships. By shifting the focus from violence and trauma to the exploration of queer sangomas’ negotiation of sexuality and gender, the paper aims to highlight the diverse, non-heteronormative identities and practices emerging at the intersection of spirituality and queerness.
Megan E. Fourqurean (she/her) is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds. Her doctoral thesis analyses representations of gender nonconformity in contemporary Nigerian literature through the figure of Mami Wata. Her research interests include postcolonial and decolonial studies, religious studies, ecocriticism and environmental humanities, Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism. Megan’s published work has appeared in The Journal of Commonwealth Literature and The Journal of the African Literature Association.
Nojenda Zwelidumile Ndungane (Mx) is a provocateur, writer and scholar-activist based in Stellenbosch. Their academic pursuits focus of the intersection of black metaphysics and the ecological world as pivotal sites for the exploration of queer subjectivities within the framework of African Queer Studies. Their Master’s research is titled: “Black Queer Joy-On Spiritual Embodiment and Human Sexuality.”
For online registration closes 15 minutes before the start of the event. You will be sent the joining link within 48 hours of the event, on the day and once again 10 minutes before the event starts.