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Writing Fellowships 2020

The Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) has selected fifteen Writing Fellows for its four-month 2020 Writing Term, which will run from February to May. Drawn from hundreds of applicants, they include outstanding scholars, writers and artists from several continents. As previously, they will stay in private suites at the JIAS complex in Westdene, Johannesburg, which will offer them a quiet space for work and reflection as well as opportunities for academic community-building. The JIAS fellows were welcomed by JIAS director – Dr. Bongani Ngqulunga on the 24th of October 2019.

“The 2020 Writing Fellowship was by far the most competitive we have had since the fellowship began. The Selection Committee had a difficult time choosing fifteen successful applicants from four hundred exceptional applications. We are very pleased with this group of outstanding writers and scholars who have been chosen and look forward to welcoming them to our beautiful campus at Westdene at the beginning of the year”, said the director of JIAS, Dr Bongani Ngqulunga.

NoViolet Bulawayo

NoViolet Bulawayo is an award winning writer whose novel, We Need New Names, has won numerous prestigious awards and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. She holds a M.F.A degree from Cornel University and in 2014 was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Bulawayo plans to use the JIAS fellowship to work on her novel titled Glory.

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Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu

Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu is the 2019 winner of the prestigious Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for her novel, The Theory of Flight. Ndlovu plans to use the time as the 2020 JIAS Writing Fellow to work on her fourth novel tentatively titled The Creation of a Half-Broken People. As Ndlovu describes it, the novel is about Elizabeth Chalmers, a Coloured woman who knows that she is spiritually possessed by an African woman who died with unfinished business that she wants to settle.

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NAUDE Charl-Pierre

Charl Naude

Charl Naude is a renowned poet, and won several prizes and nominations for his first novel, published in 2018. This includes the UJ Prize for Afrikaans fiction. During his fellowship at JIAS, Naude will continue writing a novel in English that is based, as he describes it, on the so-called last colonial war of Southern Africa, a small but tragic war, fought by General Jan Smuts against the Bondelswarts people of the then Southwest Africa. The Bondelswarts were waging a guerrilla war against the Union of South Africa in 1922 and Smuts suppressed the uprising with air raids just as he did on the Witwatersrand during the labour uprisings of the same year.

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Aderemi Kuku

Aderemi Kuku is the immediate past President of the African Academy of Sciences, 2014-2017. He was the President of the African Mathematical Union from 1986 -1995 and is a Distinguished Professor at the National Mathematical Centre in Abuja, Nigeria. He was a Professor of Mathematics at the International Centre for theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy from 1995-2003.
Kuku joins the JIAS Writing Fellowship to revise his book titled Presentation Theory and Higher Algebraic K-theory as well as writing a follow-up book titled Representation theory and Higher Algebraic K-theory, Volume II.

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KUKU Aderemi

Pier Paolo Frassinelli

Pier Paolo Frassinelli is an Associate Professor at the Department of Communication Studies, University of Johannesburg. He has been working on a research project titled African Cinemas: Spaces, Audiences and Genres, which presents an ethnography and political economy of different spaces (cinemas, film festivals, websites, and other public spaces) where African films are screened, as well as an analysis of a selection of contemporary African films and of the genres and trends that they represent. The project maps the changes in contemporary African cinemas – new genres, directions and trends – brought about by digital production and distribution technologies, as well as by changes in the sociocultural context and in audience composition. He plans to use his time at JIAS to work on the first draft of a book originating from this project.

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Amber Day

Amber Day is a Professor of Media and Performance Studies in the Department of Literary and Cultural Studies at Bryant University in the United States. Her research focuses broadly on the intersections of art and political speech, including ironic and satiric communication, political performance and activism, and public debate. Day will use her fellowship at JIAS to complete a book she has been working on tentatively titled Female Comedians as Cultural Battleground. This book examines the work of feminist comedians such as Samantha Bee, Amy Schumer, Leslie Jones, Michelle Wolf, Tiffany Haddish, and Ali Wong, and the responses they engender from both fans and trolls. Amber plans to include South African female performers.

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DAY Amber

Malebo Sephodi

Malebo Sephodi is an award-winning author, community development worker and an interdisciplinary scholar. Her book, Miss Behave, won her the South African Literary Awards First-Time Published Author Prize in 2018. Sephodi plans to use her stay at JIAS to put together a collection of essays that will interrogate Black women as state and non-state actors and their impact on international relations and how this can shape knowledge production. This collection of essays follows the lives of a selection of Black women and events (such as Leyman Gbowee, Joyce Banda, Waangari Maathai, Nigerian women’s war, Winnie Mandela, Lauretta Ngcobo, Pumzile Mlambo, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Chibok girls, Rwanda and gender) from Africa throughout history and writes them as frameworks to discuss the impact they have had on global politics.

Francis Musoni

Francis Musoni is an Associate Professor in History at the University of Kentuky. He is the author of the forthcoming book on migration in Southern Africa titled ‘Border Jumping and Migration Control in Southern Africa’. Musoni plans to write the first draft of his book on the political career of Ndabaningi Sithole, the founding president of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), a nationalist movement that spearheaded the 1970s armed struggle for independence in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). The title of the project is Ndabaningi Sithole and the Struggle for Liberation, Justice and Democracy in Zimbabwe. While there are several books on the nationalist struggle for independence in Zimbabwe and on Mugabe’s roles during and after the war, not much has been done to understand Sithole’s political career and contributions to the making of modern Zimbabwe.

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MUSONI Francis

Nisha Rayaroth

Nisha Poyyaprath Rayaroth holds a PhD in history from the University of Delhi and her first book, Jumbos and Jumping Devils: A Social History of Indian Circus, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press, India. Rayaroth was SSRC Trans-regional Research Fellow with Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, in 2017-18. She is currently working on research that explores the transnational flows of African circus performers across continents. She is also working on an edited collection based on the international conference, ‘Circus Histories and Theories’, she organized at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa in 2018. While at JIAS, she will work to develop the conceptual contours of her current research on the transnational flows of African circus bodies and the associated economic, social and cultural capital across continents.

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Fazil Moradi

Fazil Moradi is a fellow of Law, Organization, Science and Technology Research Network (LOST), engaging evidence and future by design, and Sci-Tech Asia at the University of Hong Kong. He has been a researcher of the International Max Planck Research School on Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment, and taught at the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. Moradi intends to complete a monograph entitled Hosting Modernity’s Feminicide-Genocide: Writing al-Anfāl into World History. As both inter and transdisciplinary commitment, the book engages translation and hospitality in the afterlives of modernity’s violence. He is the editor of Memory and genocide: on what remains and the possibility of representation, (co-ed. by R. Buchenhorst and M. Six-Hohenbalken, Routledge, 2017), and, “Tele-evidence – On the Translatability of Modernity’s Violence” (Special Issue co-ed. by R. Rottenburg, Critical Studies Journal, 2019). His other publications appear in: CODESRIA: JHEA, Genocide Studies International, and PLOS ONE. Moradi’s current anthropological inquiries include Art and Aesthetic Practices, Archive, Restitution of Colonial Artworks, Imperial Violence in the Middle East, and Algorithmization of the Everyday.

SENU Amaha

Amaha Senu

Amaha Senu is a social scientist working at the intersections of International Relations, Critical Security Studies, Criminology and International Political Sociology. He is also a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Seafarers International Research Centre at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. His current research project provisionally titled Governing Assemblages and Security: Stowaways in Global Shipping is based on four years of extensive research into the issue of maritime stowaways in the global shipping industry. As part of the research, Senu interviewed former and active stowaways who embark on adventurous but risky voyages on commercial cargo ships from ports in South Africa and Djibouti. Senu plans to use the 2020 JIAS Writing Fellowship to work on his monograph.

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Carien Smith

Carien Smith is a writer and academic currently residing in Johannesburg, South Africa. In her creative work, she mainly works in the genres of short fiction and theatre. She was a recipient of the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award (2019) and was shortlisted for the PEN International New Voices Award (2015). She has won the AdHoc Flash Fiction competition twice (2018, 2016). In 2015, she received an AFRIKOON from the ATKV. She has published short fiction in multiple books and other publications. Smith will be working on a book titled ‘f/vel’ – a short Afrikaans fiction made up of approximately eight to 10 flash fiction pieces and 10-15 short fiction pieces. The goal is to have this book translated to other languages in future.

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SMITH Carien

Layla Brown

Layla Brown-Vincent is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  Prior to this appointment, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Trained as a Cultural Anthropologist, Brown-Vincent uses ethnography and history to examine Black/Afrodescended social movements in Cuba, Venezuela, and the US South and the ways they are informed by and help expand Pan-Africanism and Black/African Feminism in the 21st Century. Brown-Vincent is a regular contributor to Black Perspectives, the award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). She plans to use her fellowship at JIAS to complete her book manuscript titled Return to the Source: Pan-African Global Blackness in the 21st Century.

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A. Hayashi Lazzarini

Alicia Hayashi Lazzarini is a human and economic geographer and Postdoctoral Fellow at Bucknell University. She holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota and is a former Fulbright Fellow to Mozambique. Working across the humanities and social sciences, her doctoral research investigated colonial and contemporary agro-industrial investments and their uneven productions of space. Her newest research examines contemporary urban investments; in particular, how Asian capital inflows produce novel – and newly unequal – spatial forms and practices. Centering uneven development, her interdisciplinary research engages geographical and feminist political economy, postcolonial African studies, and critical development, race, and feminist studies, with particular interest in Portuguese speaking Africa. Lazzarini will use the JIAS fellowship to complete a full draft of her scholarly book manuscript provisionally titled Luso-Capitalist Mozambique: (Re) Investments and the Production of Postcolonial Place, which explores how past layers of investment, racialized, migrant, and gendered land-labour regimes, and uneven rural-urban transformations shape the production of place in contemporary Mozambique.

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Olivia Rutazibwa

Olivia Umurerwa Rutazibwa is a Belgian/Rwandan political scientist and Senior Lecturer in European and International (Development) Studies at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. She has published in various academic journals, is the co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics and Decolonization and Feminisms in Global Teaching and Learning. She is also associate editor of International Feminist Journal of Politics. She has previously worked as Africa desk editor, journalist and columnist at the Brussels based quarterly MO* Magazine. She authored The End of the White World. A Decolonial Manifesto (in Dutch, EPO, 2019). In 2011, she delivered a TEDx talk titled: Decolonizing Western Minds. During her stay at JIAS Rutazibwa will work on a monograph titled: On The Ruins of Epistemicide: Decolonising Solidarity Through Blackness, Reparations, Dignity and Ethical Retreat, which looks at a decolonial reconceptualization of solidarity. The project paints the context in which contemporary hegemonic solidarity thinking and practices – cf. aid & development, humanitarianism, state building and democracy promotion – are understood, via critiques of coloniality and Whiteness, as problematic and in need of decolonial rethinking.

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Lebohang Liepollo Pheko

Lebohang Liepollo Pheko is an activist scholar, researcher , public intellectual, development practitioner with interests in Afrikan political economy, States & nationhood, international trade & global financial governance, feminisation of poverty, regional integration and impacts of globalisation on labour migration.

Senior Research Fellow at research and policy advocacy think tank Trade Collective and has taught International Trade and developed a course on Afrikan Feminism at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute where she is a founding faculty member and Associate. She has taught as visiting faculty at several institutions beyond South Africa including Zambia, Mexico, Sweden, the US and the UK.

Pheko’s work is grounded in a race, class and feminist analysis and she is committed to grounding academic research in community struggles & contexts. She is proudly associated with a wave of unapologetic African feminism that is grounded in heterodox thinking on social transformation, reframing the State and rethinking economics. She has contributed to several books on international trade, gender and politics and social transformation and written numerous conference and academic papers in addition to popular opinion pieces and columns on regional integration, international relations, migration, public & development policy, economic citizenship, forms of nation and statehood including racism in international institutions and emerging global powers.

Her current work in on the intersection between Memory, the Political Economy and Reparation and she uses decoloniality to frame this research.

MsLebohang Pheko


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