Following the founding colloquium of the IABA Africa chapter in October 2017, this special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies will both explore and provisionally consolidate examples of contemporary scholarship on the varied forms of ‘auto/biogrAfrical’ life storying that emerge from (and in relation to) African contexts.
Some questions this issue may consider:
- How do life narratives from (or about) Africa mediate the tensions of politics, history, and self within individual lives and in public contexts?
- What narrative and conceptual tropes, techniques, and traditions are emergent (and established) in contemporary life stories from Africa?
- What shifts in textuality, expressive form, and re-mediation of ‘the auto/biogrAfrical’ occur within and across generations of African imaginaries, in respect of race, class, gender, orientation, and other identity categories?
- What modes of scholarship are needed in order to address changing understandings and practices of autobiographical multimodality in African texts and contexts?
We invite contributions that expand disciplinary approaches to auto/biographical studies from and in relation to African texts, contexts, possibilities, and provocations. Relevant here are: theories and practices of life narrative in postcolonial, decolonial, and diaspora studies; migrant and refugee studies; digital studies; new media and communications; visual studies and art history; performance studies; disability studies; gender and sexuality studies, war and conflict studies, childhood and youth studies, and innovative autoethnographic studies.
Possible topics could include:
- autobiographical coming-of-age in exile/in Africa and the African diaspora, including digital diasporas
- intergenerational and intercultural conflict
- sexuality, orientation, LGBTQIA, trans life stories, queering a/b
- domesticating publics and publicizing domesticity
- prison writing and life narratives of institutional confinement
- the relational narration of animal life stories, posthumanism, and eco-auto/biography
- memory, official/vernacular archives, and ephemera (stories, images, material artifacts)
- accounts by/of displaced children and child soldiers
- autobiographical subgenres such as patriography, matriography, ecography, autogynography, gastrography, autography, autoethnography, autopsychography, alterbiography, autophylography
- blogs and #hashtag cultures, and experimental life writing
- testimony, witness, trauma, resilience, and re-storying the lives of refugees and migrants
- challenges of method, and pedagogy, in relation to auto/biographical texts
Submissions must be 6,000 - 8,000 words long, including citations following Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition. Please submit the full essay anonymized, accompanied by a cover sheet with your name, contact details and a brief biography. Authors should also provide a short abstract of not more than 100 words and four keywords. All essays submitted for the special issue, but not selected, may be considered for publication in other issues of a/b. The journal supports the inclusion of both black & white and colour images. Images with captions must be submitted in a separate file as 300 dpi (or higher) tif files. The author must secure proof of copyright permission to reprint images.
Editors’ Biographical Statements
Associate Professor Fiona Moolla is a lecturer in the English Department at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. She is the author of Reading Nuruddin Farah (James Currey, 2014), and is working on struggle life writing told through the prism of love.
Professor Sally Ann Murray is Chair of English at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She has published academic autoethnographies and is the recipient of literary awards for poetry and fiction, most notably for the autobiographical novel Small Moving Parts (Kwela, 2009).
Dr Tilla Slabbert is a Senior Lecturer in the English Department at Stellenbosch University. She co-authored the biography of the musician David Kramer (Tafelberg, 2011).
- Guest Editor: Fiona Moolla, University of the Western Cape
- Guest Editor: Sally Ann Murray, Stellenbosch University
- Guest Editor: Tilla Slabbert, Stellenbosch University)