CFP: [Postcolonial] MLA 2009––Depicting Africa: Affect, Neoliberalism and Technologies of Mediation

full name / name of organization: 
Lily Saint
contact email: 

Depicting Africa: Affect, Neoliberalism and Technologies of Mediation

Recent U.S. ad campaigns focused on African humanitarian “crises” reinforce
the notion that what we choose to buy helps make the world “a better
place.” From The Gap and Apple's "Red" campaign, to Keep a Child Alive's "I
am African" campaign, such portraits conform to a neoliberal ideology,
which places the burden for change on the individual non-African “I.”
Relying upon commonly shared “structures of feeling” that have a long
history dating back, at least, to colonialism, contemporary representations
of Africa continue to cast it in the hackneyed rhetoric of otherness. This
is used, in turn, to justify damaging economic reforms which exacerbate the
very situations of dependence they purport to relieve. This neocolonial
state of affairs works by deploying our affective, relational capacities,
linking discrete, individual reactions to larger networks of global,
socio-economic relations. Evoking responses of pity and guilt, for example,
neocolonial ideology forges relationships between the consumer-citizen of
the Global North and the feminized beneficiary-victim of the Global south,
defined through the parameters of affect.

This proposed MLA session invites papers that examine how representations
of Africa mold affect to sustain the conditions of a neocolonial world. Are
there distinct neo-colonial technologies of representation that differ from
previous ones? How does affect shape and re-shape collective identities?
How does understanding affect change how we interpret the world?

Suggested topics include:

Affect and Africa (Sympathy; Fear; Guilt)
Affect and knowledge production
Affective and economic ties
African depictions of Africa
Construction of difference
Disease in Africa
Literary depictions of Africa
Naturalization of neoliberal thought
Neocolonial relations and identities
Production of affect
Visual depictions of Africa
Ways of seeing and feeling Africa

Inquiries & Proposals (please include short CV) by March 19 to: Lily Saint All panelists must be members of MLA by 7 April.
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Received on Mon Feb 09 2009 - 18:33:38 EST