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ACSSA Annual Conference, Futuring Africa
April 11, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Join the African Cultural Studies Student Association for their annual conference exploring the theme, Futuring Africa.
Keynote Speaker Dr. Jamie A. Thomas, Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore College, examines, “‘Continuity is How They Kill Us’: Smashing the Timeline to Re-Tell African Futures.”
Bio: Thomas, author of the forthcoming book Zombies Speak Swahili, examines the undead through the eyes of a linguist. Her research on zombies concerns the interplay of race, identity, and media in language learning and study abroad, from Mexico to Tanzania. She incorporates her love of The Walking Dead into her teaching at Swarthmore College, and is a Visiting Scholar at UC Santa Barbara. “Continuity is How They Kill Us” Smashing the Timeline to Re-Tell African Futures We constantly witness the future through prediction, constraint, and linearity. When it comes to African futures, these stories are often grounded in pasts owned by an empowered few. The subversive African storyteller therefore enters into the act of rewriting, understanding that the dismantling of today’s distortions challenges tomorrow’s imperialism (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 1987). Drawing upon remarks by Haile Gerima (2016) in discussion of his film Ashes and Embers, and Wanuri Kahiu (2018), director of Pumzi and Rafiki, this talk develops an argument for non-linear encounters with Africa and the African Diaspora. Here, in a preview from my book Zombies Speak Swahili, I show how ethnography offers a cinematic glimpse of the Congo “out of time.” This pieces together an alternative historiography of Swahili told from Mexico, Tanzania, Cuba, and the Congo. What is the future of Swahili as witnessed through these African voices, and from these pasts? How does parting with continuity open alternative pathways for African cultural studies?