Nnedi Okorafor: Destruction and Wholeness (Special Session)

Graeme Wend-Walker's picture
November 11, 2021 to November 14, 2021
Texas, United States
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Graduate Studies, Literature, Race / Ethnic Studies

Nnedi Okorafor: Destruction and Wholeness (Special Session)

118th Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association Annual Conference, Las Vegas: "CITY OF GOD, CITY OF DESTRUCTION" (Thursday, November 11 - Sunday, November 14, 2021 at Sahara Las Vegas Hotel, hosted by University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

Deadline for submissions: June 30, 2021



Terrible destruction – or the possibility of it – is a frequent presence in Nnedi Okorafor’s tales of Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism. Sometimes, the destructive element becomes reincorporated into the whole, or is revealed to have always been part of it. Sometimes, it is as close to home as the protagonist herself. This session considers any textual or theoretical interpretation of Okorafor's works. But proposals are particularly welcome that explore the complex ways in which Okorafor’s writing interrogates binary oppositions, folding back into its logic what might otherwise have been excluded – even when the excluded element may seem irredeemably catastrophic.


Societies around the globe have recently found themselves united, in a sense, by destruction as they share in the common threat of a pandemic and a common goal to eradicate it. At the same time, in the United States, we have seen multiple threats converge to threaten the destruction of our democracy. Conventionally, such threats are often constructed as alien to an original wholeness; society was well (more or less), but a destructive disease came along and corrupted it from outside. While such constructions often make a certain amount of sense (especially where a particular threat has been identified for eradication), they may also obscure ways of seeing and understanding that don’t neatly fit into such categories. Nnedi Okorafor’s writing often seems committed to the interrogation of binarisms, guided by a kind of voracious intellectual commitment to the possibilities that may emerge when we are willing to stop saying either/or. We see this especially in her exploration of binarisms such as human/animal, human/machine, and life/death. In Okorafor’s most recent novel, Remote Control, for example, a young girl becomes the Adopted Daughter of Death through her contact with an alien artifact and discovers she has the power to annihilate. Her journey into understanding her new identity threatens any number of other oppositions – as an NPR reviewer puts it, “between worship and fear, between machine and flesh, between corporation and culture, and between death and reclamation.” In a world where the greatest potential for destruction may lie in our tendency to define all things through antagonistic opposition, Okorafor’s work invites us, even pushes us, to rethink how we think.

Please submit your abstract here: https://pamla.ballastacademic.com/Home/S/18272

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Please send any inquiries to Graeme Wend-Walker (graeme@txstate.edu)

Contact Info: 

Graeme Wend-Walker
Texas State University

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