Universiteit Leiden

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African Literatures and Arts in a Globalising Context - Sensory Fields and Social Perceptions

Wednesday 6 April 2016
African Arts and Literatures Today
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

African Literatures and Arts in a Globalising Context 

Prof. Emeritus Mineke Schipper (Leiden University) 

Europe’s powerful impact on African cultures is well-known, whereas little attention has been paid to Africa’s reverse impact. A closer look reveals that in a process of mythmaking numerous storytellers and artists in both continents have been fascinated by the topic of the mysterious other. Nowadays, people in Europe are aware of Western stereotypes of Africa and Africans, but remain unfamiliar with Africa’s ways of ‘digesting’ Europe and Europeans in its literatures and arts. After an outline of the ongoing connections in this ongoing dialogue, examples from storytelling and artistic traditions will serve as illustrations.

Sensory Fields and Social Perceptions 

Prof. Carrol Clarkson (University of Amsterdam) 

In Plato's Republic, the poets (with their subjective and affective modes of engaging others) are banished from an imagined ideal state — the domain of reason and the law. In this lecture, with reference to the political transition in South Africa, Carrol Clarkson argues for the value of the subjective engagements usually associated with the arts when it comes to thinking towards a more just society. Drawing on the work of leading writers, artists, and legal theorists from South Africa, the lecture develops a theory of how subjective commitment in the material expressions of society could be understood to operate. Further: in writing, speech, and other forms of cultural and political expression, we create and change the sensory fields of what can be seen and heard. These sensory fields have traction on our thoughts, and affect social perceptions of what counts and of what matters.

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