Event Title

Literary Responses to the Post-Election Violence in Kenya: Creating Cultural Memory through Writing, Production and Circulation

Start Date

12-1-2012 10:30 AM

End Date

12-1-2012 12:00 PM

Description

Drawing on theoretical frameworks from across memory studies, book history and African literature, this paper explores the role of writers, literary networks and publishers in the creation and mediation of cultural memory. It focuses on literary responses to the post-election violence of 2007/8 in Kenya, using the formation of the Concerned Kenyan Writers group and the publication of Kenyan literary journal Kwani as case studies.

Double issue Kwani 5 brings together fiction, creative non-fiction, interviews, photographs and cartoons with the explicit aim of providing a ‘collective narrative on what we were before, and what we became during the epochal first 100 days of 2008’. Wulf Kansteiner (2002) has argued that the study of collective memory would benefit from ‘adopting and further developing the methods of media and communication studies’. Responding to this, the paper:

- presents close readings of material from Kwani 5 examining the different ways in which writers engage with and represent conflict and memory

- explores the publisher’s role as ‘memory maker’ in the editorial selection, presentation and marketing of Kwani 5

- examines the reception and circulation of Kwani 5 and the public dialogues it created.

Focusing on the relationship between the Concerned Kenyan Writers group and Kwani 5, the paper asks: What is the role of the publisher in the creation and mediation of cultural memory (in terms of what is published, where it is published, when it is published and in what format)? What role do literary networks play in creating, transmitting or endorsing particular histories or memories? What is the relationship between writing, dialogue and public spaces in a society that has experienced conflict? How does writing which examines a shared traumatic and violent past circulate locally, nationally, regionally and globally?

Drawing on the work of James Young and his focus on the ‘interactive, dialogical quality of memorial space’, I intend to show how Kenyan writers have navigated, constructed, and been constructed by the complexities and pluralities of memory making.

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Jan 12th, 10:30 AM Jan 12th, 12:00 PM

Literary Responses to the Post-Election Violence in Kenya: Creating Cultural Memory through Writing, Production and Circulation

Drawing on theoretical frameworks from across memory studies, book history and African literature, this paper explores the role of writers, literary networks and publishers in the creation and mediation of cultural memory. It focuses on literary responses to the post-election violence of 2007/8 in Kenya, using the formation of the Concerned Kenyan Writers group and the publication of Kenyan literary journal Kwani as case studies.

Double issue Kwani 5 brings together fiction, creative non-fiction, interviews, photographs and cartoons with the explicit aim of providing a ‘collective narrative on what we were before, and what we became during the epochal first 100 days of 2008’. Wulf Kansteiner (2002) has argued that the study of collective memory would benefit from ‘adopting and further developing the methods of media and communication studies’. Responding to this, the paper:

- presents close readings of material from Kwani 5 examining the different ways in which writers engage with and represent conflict and memory

- explores the publisher’s role as ‘memory maker’ in the editorial selection, presentation and marketing of Kwani 5

- examines the reception and circulation of Kwani 5 and the public dialogues it created.

Focusing on the relationship between the Concerned Kenyan Writers group and Kwani 5, the paper asks: What is the role of the publisher in the creation and mediation of cultural memory (in terms of what is published, where it is published, when it is published and in what format)? What role do literary networks play in creating, transmitting or endorsing particular histories or memories? What is the relationship between writing, dialogue and public spaces in a society that has experienced conflict? How does writing which examines a shared traumatic and violent past circulate locally, nationally, regionally and globally?

Drawing on the work of James Young and his focus on the ‘interactive, dialogical quality of memorial space’, I intend to show how Kenyan writers have navigated, constructed, and been constructed by the complexities and pluralities of memory making.