Literary (Un/Re)Settling: Decolonial discourse in/and South African literary systems

Siseko  Kumalo 's picture
Call for Papers
September 6, 2019
South Africa
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Languages, Literature, Political History / Studies

Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang (2012) state unambiguously that while decolonisation proper concerns repatriation, it still primarily manifests in and through metaphoric use in historically white institutions. This manifestation fails to fully address inequality and injustices – facilitating ‘a set of evasions, or “settler moves to innocence”, that problematically attempt to reconcile settler guilt and complicity, and rescue settler futurity’ (Tuck & Yang 2012: 1). Specifically, ‘settler moves to innocence’ are seen as ‘those strategies or positionings that attempt to relieve the settler of feelings of guilt or responsibility without giving up land or power or privilege, without having to change much at all. In fact, settler scholars may gain professional kudos or a boost in their reputations for being so sensitive or self-aware’ (2012: 10).

Arguably, only a limited number of contexts of metaphorisation in decolonial discourse have been as evident as in the South African literary studies and critical-literary traditions. To address this, the JDD invites contributions to a special issue on the ways in which decolonial discourse has manifested in the various South African literary systems, in other words, literature written in English, Afrikaans and the literary traditions of isiXhosa and isiZulu. This special issue will be guest edited by Dr Zamansele Nsele (University of Johannesburg) and Chelsea Haith (Oxford University). In mining the rich metaphoric intersections of ‘settler/settling’, ‘unsettling’ and ‘resettling’ within literary systems, contributions are invited that consider both the historic (through the Black Archive) and sudden, contemporary uptake of decolonising terminology in literary traditions in South Africa, and how this terminology has served to surface, neutralise or compound systemic, academic and popular literary injustices and inequalities.

While specific attention could be given to the ways in which this uptake can/has acted as ‘settler
moves to innocence’, contributions that showcase how various literary systems have historically resisted the tokenistic co-optation of decolonial discourse are also encouraged. Submissions on (though not limited to) the following thematic areas, strands and questions are invited:
• Historical analyses of decoloniality in/through the works of the Black Archive (constitutive of, for instance, Noni Jabavu, Nontsizi Mgqwetho, SEK Mqhayi);
• Comparative work on how different South African literary systems have co-opted decolonial terminology;
• The productive tension between the introduction of unsettling paradigms and re-settling literary responses;
• The functional relation between the postcolonial as literary lens and decolonial discourse;
• Decolonial feminism(s) in the postcolonial literary tradition;
• The embrace of literary queerness as substitutive proxy for decoloniality; and
• Oral/written interfaces in (post)colonial South Africa.

Interested authors are invited to submit abstracts of no more than 300–400 words by 6 September
2019 to
. Full papers are to be submitted to on or before 31 January 2020. Contributions should range between 5 000 and 8 000 words, including references, footnotes and images. For author guidelines on submissions, please consult the Journal webpage:

The editorial board of the JDD looks forward to receiving your submission.

Contact Info: 

Siseko H. Kumalo

Editor: Journal of Decolonising Disicplines 

+27 12 420 2613

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