Marxism and African Literatures: New Interventions (Journal Special Issue)

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Alexander Fyfe
contact email: 

Marxism and African Literatures: New Interventions

A Special Issue of African Identities: Journal of Economics, Culture and Society

Guest Editor: Alexander Fyfe

Full cfp:

This special issue will survey recent developments at the intersection of Marxist thought and the study of African literatures. While the fields of African and postcolonial literary studies have become increasingly concerned with the relation between capitalism (often designated by terms such as “neoliberalism” or “globalization”) and cultural production, the roles played by various Marxisms as analytical frameworks and political affiliations remain under-researched. This lack of attention is all the more surprising given that there is an established history of Marxist interventions within African literary studies — exemplified by, but not limited to, those found in Georg M. Gugelberger’s 1986 essay collection, Marxism and African Literature. Whereas this earlier Marxism dealt principally with the role of literature in resistance and the question of ideology, the utility of Marxisms in the current, more fragmentary, political moment remains to be thoroughly assessed.

It is therefore an opportune moment to assess the relevance of the myriad developments in Marxist criticism, literary theory, and political economy that have occurred since the 1980s for the problems posed by African literatures. How, for example, do Marx-derived theories of value or crisis inform an understanding of the role of the literary in contemporary African societies? At the same time, actually existing African Marxisms — particularly those that post-date the struggles for independence — are ripe for critical inquiry, particularly where they bear upon literary production. In this regard, recent interventions such as Adam Mayer’s 2016 book, Naija Marxisms: Revolutionary Thought in Nigeria, are important touchstones. At stake for this special issue, therefore, is not only the relevance of “Western” Marxism to the study of African literature, but the complex (re)constellations of plural Marxisms and African literary production.

Potential topics might include:

  • Reformulations of Marxist concepts in African contexts and languages
  • Representations of Marxism and Marxian movements in contemporary African literatures
  • The relevance of the term “neoliberalism” for the study of African literature
  • Assessments of Marxist literary-critical practice in relation to African literature
  • The relevance of critical/political economic concepts to the study of African texts
  • African authors who identify as Marxist (or who once did). Partic. the work of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and Wole Soyinka.
  • Marxism, gender, and sexuality in African literary contexts
  • Translations/circulations of Marxist texts on the African continent or diaspora
  • Oral literatures/cultures and Marxism
  • Representations of Marxist revolutionary practice in other media such as film, radio, or journalism

Contributions from scholars working on the African continent are particularly welcome.

Deadline for Abstracts of 300 words (to be submitted to 1 November 2018

Deadline for final papers of no more than 8000 words: 1 February 2019

The journal's intstructions for authors can be found here: