Call for Papers—RAL Special Issue on Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift: Disruption

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Call for Papers
February 18, 2021
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Literature, Popular Culture Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Call for Papers—RAL Special Issue on Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift: Disruption


Guest Editor: Deborah Nyangulu


Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift (2019), just like its author’s political commitments, is innovatively disruptive ... but is all nonchalant about it. The genealogies and contexts for African writing are multiple and dispersed. Many before have disrupted systems that require continuous disruptions. The keyword for organizing essays in this special issue is disruption.


Dedicated to Serpell’s The Old Drift, this 600-page genre-bending, spatial-temporal-rupturing, history-disrupting, nation-centering unapologetically Zambian novel, deserves its own special issue. And yet its Zambianess, as has been noted by Mwanabibi Sikamo in a review for the Lusaka Times, is also written for the world. 


The issue invites submissions that critically engage with the above by foregrounding any analytical category of choice: intertextuality, history, prose, race, decolonization, genealogy, migration, class, colonialism, solidarity, transnational, belonging, gender, sexuality, displacement, nation, fallism, social realism, dispossession, intersectionality, Afrofuturism, hair, faces, genre, illness, allegory, love, sight, etc. Examples of topics that contributors can engage with as they relate to the novel include but are not limited to:

  • How Serpell’s oeuvre features in and influences the novel
  • Intertextual references to Zambian literature or other texts beyond
  • Mother-daughter relationships
  • Constructions of race and whiteness
  • Orality and folklore
  • Italian presence in Rhodesia
  • Migration, displacement, and belonging
  • Serpell’s modes of self-fashioning and political commitments
  • The digital and literature
  • Anti-colonial nationalism and allegory
  • Global literary marketplace
  • HIV/AIDS epidemic and scientific research

All finished manuscripts are expected to conform to the standard RAL guidelines published in every issue of the journal, and all submissions will be subject to peer review. Prospective contributors should send their 300–500-word abstracts by February 28, 2021 and expect notification of selection by March 08, 2021. Final papers are due by July 12, 2021 and will be subject to peer review. The guest editor encourages potential contributors to establish early contact via email to (Deborah Nyangulu).

Contact Info: 

Deborah Nyangulu

University of Münster

Johannisstraße 12-20, Room 325
48143 Münster