This project explores transnational dynamics in the literary production of African women writers in Nigeria and Tanzania, with an emphasis on feminism and Pan-Africanism. Drawing on anthropological theory and method, it is an ethnographic study centered on a select number of contemporary women writers in different genres (novels, short stories, poetry, plays and children books) and the cultural circumstances of their literary production. The project will be carried out 2016-2021, with fieldwork in Nigeria and Tanzania starting in 2016.


Theoretically, the project centres on transnational interactions and tensions in literary production in and of Africa. As a literary and social category, African women writers bring attention to two interrelated aspects of the cosmopolitan/ vernacular dynamic in world literature. As women writers, their work highlights the transnational tensions of feminism, thus demanding a more pluralistic approach to issues relating to women and gender, as explored in African feminism. As African writers, their works exemplify the cultural construction of Africanness in a globalized world, thus bringing forth more critical forms of cosmopolitanism, not least Pan-Africanism. Rather than privileging Western circuits of African literature, this project takes an ethnographic approach, focusing on literary production from within, thus building on recent scholarship that accentuates the African context of literary production. In addition to examining local literary worlds, this project investigates digital mediations in literary production and transnational exchange, including social and visual media. Fieldwork in NIgeria and Tanzania starts in 2016.



This project is part of a new research programme on world literatures (2016-2021):


Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics in World Literatures


This research programme will explore, on a planetary scale, how aesthetic values, genres, forms, literary communities and individual authorships are shaped in a trade-off between the local and the global, between the national and the international, between hegemonic and dominated languages, between the North and the South, the East and the West, and the South and the South. Focusing on such productive tensions between cosmopolitan and vernacular tendencies, the 26 sub-projects will also investigate how literature can advance the critical understanding of cosmopolitanism - historically, and in our contemporary moment shaped by globalisation, resurgent nationalisms, regionalisms, and racisms. Research questions cluster around translation and circulation, literary history, migration, multilingualism, and the "world-making" capacity of literature. Methodologically, it will engage with world literature studies, critical theory, postcolonial studies, book history, translation studies, and anthropology. The research programme is led by Prof. Stefan Helgesson, Department of English at Stockholm University and brings together 26 researchers from four Swedish Universities. This multidisciplinary programme is supported by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation (Riksbankens Jublieumsfond, RJ).


For more information, see






Department of Social Anthropology

Stockholm University


Books by African Women

One world - One humanity

For me feminism is about justice.

I am a feminist because I want to live in a world that is more just.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Copyright @ All Rights Reserved