Literacy in Oral Cultures: Call for Papers

1 July 2010


Literacy in Oral Cultures: conflicts, compromises and complications

Date: 24-25 November 2010

Location: University of Glasgow

Deadline for submissions: 14 August 2010

Before Western colonial intervention, the culture and bureaucracy of sub-Saharan Africa was predominantly transmitted orally through ritual, storytelling, music, etc. For many years, the literate western colonial bureaucracy laboured to transform Africa and the evidence of the interaction between these two cultures is documented and preserved in the national archives of almost all African countries. This is, however, an incomplete record of bureaucratic process and ownership; the voices of Africans are largely silent in this official record.

A free two-day symposium, Literacy in oral cultures: conflicts, compromises and complications, is hosted by the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) within the School of Humanities of the University of Glasgow. This symposium will provide a forum for renowned academics in African history both from the UK and Africa, surviving British former administrators in colonial Africa, UK scholars who have experience in using the archives in Africa, archivists, post-graduate students, researchers and many others, to discuss a range of critical issues surrounding media and memory in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Africa. The symposium keynote speakers will be Ivan Murambiwa, Director of the National Archives of Zimbabwe and Professor Kings Phiri of the University of Malawi.

Although the conference is primarily for postgraduate students, everyone is invited to submit abstracts of papers and presentations for one of the three student panel discussions whose suggested themes are outlined below. Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be emailed to by 14th August 2010. Applicants should include their names, details of their institution and phase of study, and indicate for which panel they consider their paper most relevant.

Full details can be found here.




Arts & Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,000 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute nearly a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. See Arts & Humanities Research Council website.