Research

RESEARCH


The project African Women Writers explores transnational dynamics in the literary production of African women writers in Nigeria and Tanzania, with an emphasis on gender, digital media and worldmaking. 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 was carried out 2016-2021, with short periods of fieldwork in Nigeria and Tanzania from 2016 to 2018.


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, such as African womanism. As African writers, their works exemplify the cultural construction of Africanness in a globalized world, thus bringing forth more critical forms of cosmopolitanism, such as 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 exchange, including social and visual media. Fieldwork in Nigeria and Tanzania started in 2016.


This project is part of a  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 http://www.worldlit.se




PAULA

UIMONEN

Professor, Stockholm University

BIOGRAPHY


Paula Uimonen specializes in digital anthropology and anthropology of art, visual culture, media, globalization and world literature. She has also explored visual and digital research methods and filmmaking. Her fieldwork has primarily been in Tanzania, East Africa, and to some extent in Nigeria, West Africa, with short visits to Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Namibia and Ethiopia. In the past she has also done fieldwork in Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia in Southeast Asia.


Her recent project African Women Writers draws on fieldwork with female authors in Nigeria and Tanzania. The project is part of the research programme Cosmopolitan and vernacular dynamics in world literatures (2016-2021), funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ). In addition to various articles and book chapters, Paula has published this research in an open access monograph, Invoking Flora Nwapa: Nigerian Women Writers, Femininity and Spirituality in World Literature (2020) and a documentary film Efuru@50 (2017) on YouTube.


Her earlier publications focus on mobile photography in Tanzania (2016), mobile infrastructure in Africa (2015), and mourning rituals for Mandela in Cape Town (2015). Her research on digital media and intercultural interaction at a national art institute in Tanzania was published in the monograph Digital Drama. Teaching and Learning Art and Media in Tanzania (Uimonen 2012), with a website at http://innovativeethnographies.net/digitaldrama. In another project, an anti-corruption campaign by Tanzanian musicians was presented in an ethnographic road movie Chanjo ya Rushwa (2013), available online at https://vimeo.com/paulauimonen.


Paula teaches courses on global development (BA), digital anthropology (MA),  anthropological methods (MA), and classics in anthropology (PhD).

She also supervises thesis writing (BA & MA).


Paula is also specialized in information and communication technology for development (ICT4D), most recently as director of The Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider) at Stockholm University (2011-2013), previously as ICT4D consultant to the United Nations, Sida, and Tanzanian authorities (1998-2008) as well as global policy making (WSIS 2003, 2005).