Centre for African Studies (LUCAS)

General enquiries

Leeds University Centre for African Studies
c/o POLIS,
Social Sciences Building,
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT

Tel: 0113 343 5069

LUCAS Schools Project coordinator

Richard Borowski

In conversation with Mustapha Benfodil

In conversation with Mustapha Benfodil.  

Time and venue: 5.10pm Wednesday 7 March in Parkinson SR 1.08 (floor 1 of Parkinson Building)


French at Leeds and International Writers at Leeds are delighted to welcome the Algerian journalist, writer and visual artist Mustapha Benfodil, who will read from some of his poetry, novels and journalism in English translation. These readings will be followed by a discussion in English and French facilitated by interpreters.  

Born in the western Algerian city of Relizane in 1968, Mustapha Benfodil is one of Algeria’s most prominent journalists, working for the leading daily newspaper, El Watan, recently the subject of a documentary (Contre-pouvoirs) by Malek Bensmaïl (2016). Mustapha Benfodil is part of an emerging generation of avant-garde Algerian writers and artists of the post-civil war era and is known for his blending of the boundaries between literature, art and political activism.

His novels include Zarta! (Barzakh, 2000), Les Bavardages du Seul (Barzakh 2003) – winner of the prize for the best Algerian novel in 2004 – and Archéologie du chaos [amoureux] (Barzakh, 2007; published in France by Al Dante, 2012). He is the author of five plays, including Clandestinopolis (2005; staged at the Avant-scène théâtre, Paris, 2008); Les Borgnes (2011); and Le Point de Vue de la Mort (Al Dante, 2013). Mustapha has also published in book form his experiences as war reporter in Iraq: Les six derniers jours de Baghdad: journal d’un voyage de guerre (2003). An English translation of his poetry is forthcoming in 2018 (Cocktail Kafaïne). This year also sees the publication of L’AntiLivre that maps the social and political evolution of Algeria over several decades based on Mustapha’s personal diaries. 

For more information about this event, please contact Dr. Jim House: j.r.house@leeds.ac.uk

This entry was posted in Leeds, Research.

CGD / POLIS seminar – Prof Stephen Brown on aid effectiveness

Centre for Global Development / POLIS Research Seminar


“Applying the Aid Effectiveness Principles: Experiences from Mali, Ghana and Ethiopia”

Prof. Stephen Brown, University of Ottawa


Date: Monday, 26th Feb 2018


Location: Social Sciences Building 10.05, 4pm-5.30pm



Abstract: In 2005, foreign aid donors and recipients formally endorsed a few basic but far-reaching principles that had the potential to revolutionize global development cooperation. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness – with its emphasis on putting recipients in the proverbial driver’s seat, donors aligning their aid with recipients’ national development strategies and harmonizing among themselves – promised to transform the way donors and recipients worked together, especially how they designed and implemented aid, in the interest of greater effectiveness. Using the cases of Mali, Ghana and Ethiopia, I address the following questions: To what extent have the Paris Principles been applied? What explains this degree of commitment? What has been the effect on the donor-recipient relationship? What do these findings suggest regarding the future of the Aid Effectiveness Agenda?


Stephen Brown is a professor of political science at the University of Ottawa and currently a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Advanced Studies. His research focuses mainly on the intersection of the policies and practices of Northern countries and other international

For further information, please contact Dr. Simon Lightfoot s.j.lightfoot@leeds.ac.uk

This entry was posted in Leeds, Research, Seminars.

LUCAS Postgraduate Race workshop

LUCAS Postgraduate Race Workshop 

Monday 5 February, 5-7pm, Workshop Theatre



LUCAS (Leeds University Centre for African Studies) is conducting confidential research into the experiences of black and/or African post-graduates studying at the University and would like to invite you to a workshop/discussion as co-investigators to understand how well you feel you are supported, academically and pastorally, while studying in Leeds. To begin this process we are inviting you to a two hour workshop on

Monday 5th February, from 5-7pm in the Workshop Theatre.

The workshop will give you an opportunity to meet others in different Schools, to exchange views, take part in some ice-breaking workshop activities, discuss and partake of some light refreshments. Nothing said in the workshop will be recorded and it will be entirely confidential. It will also be up to those attending to decide if further meetings or activities will be helpful. LUCAS staff; Richard Borowski, Jane Plastow, Akin Iwilade and Winnie Bedigen will be working with you to facilitate open and productive debate.

If you would like to attend there is no need to register, just turn up on the day. However, if you would like to ask anything more about the workshop feel free to email Jane Plastow at j.e.plastow@leeds.ac.uk.

The Workshop Theatre is just near the main entrance to the University on Woodhouse Lane (number 61 on the campus map). As you come in at the side of the Parkinson steps the first building on the other side of the road is a large ex-church, The Emmanuel Institute. The next building as you walk into the campus is what looks like a smaller stone church but over the door it says WORKSHOP THEATRE. Come in and go upstairs to the first floor studio. (Don’t worry it’s not an acting session!)


This entry was posted in Leeds, LUCAS, Workshop.

LUCAS Spring Seminar series 2018


Professor Birgit Meyer (Utrecht) – ‘Studying Religion in and from Africa’.

[Co-sponsor – Centre for Religion and Public Life]

Thursday 25 January, 5pm, Parkinson Building B.09



David Clayton (York), ‘Development and

Decolonisation? Radio Broadcasting in Northern Rhodesia, 1942-1953’

Monday 5 February, 5pm, Michael Sadler Building 311


Akin Iwilade (LUCAS), ‘Everyday youth mobilisations in the Nigerian oil delta’

Friday 2 March, 5pm, Michael Sadler Building 311


Branwyn Poleykett (Cambridge), ‘Visual materials and public health in Africa: Healing, Holism and the Image World of Senegalese Hygiene’

This has been cancelled – we hope to rearrange this in the Autumn 2018 term at a date TBC – apologies


Winnie Bedigen (Leeds), ‘Youth (Monyomiji) and Conflict Resolution in South Sudan’

Tuesday 24 April, 5pm, Michael Sadler Building LG.17


For more details, or to join the LUCAS mailing list, please contact   african-studies@leeds.ac.uk


This entry was posted in LUCAS, Seminars.

Cfp: ASAUK – African Literature stream

Call for proposals for papers or panels to the ASAUK 2018 conference (11-13 September 2018, University of Birmingham UK). The conference celebrates the diversity and interdisciplinarity of the study of Africa.

The deadline for submitting abstracts and proposals is 16 February 2018.

Rachel Bower (Leeds) is co-convening a literature stream with Jared Zimbler (University of Birmingham): http://www.asauk.net/african-literature-communities-collaborations-crafts-crossings/– they would love to read your proposals.


Jared and Rachel would like to invite panels and papers which consider the ways in which literary works and their authors have moved within, across, into and out of Africa’s literary environments and domains. We seek to consider national, pan-African and transnational collaborations (and conflicts), as well as connections between different located literary communities, whilst seeking to address literary practices and materials, as well as the technologies and institutions of production by which they are governed and from which they emerge. One of the aims of this stream is to facilitate an exploration of the relevance to scholars of African verbal arts of recent attempts to theorize literary production and circulation at scales other than the national.

There is more information about the CFP and how to register/ submit abstracts/ panel proposals here: http://www.asauk.net/call-for-papers-and-panels-asauk-2018-now-open/


This entry was posted in Conferences, Research.

CfP: Memory and Performance in African-Atlantic Futures



Memory and Performance in African-Atlantic Futures”

Three-day International Conference

31 August – 2 September 2018 – University of Leeds

At a time when new dynamics are emerging around the issues of justice (transitional, reparative, etc.), mourning and commemoration in Africa and its diaspora, the conference “Memory and Performance in African-Atlantic Futures” seeks to consider the current historical conjuncture and the extent to which it reveals new questions about memory in the historical, temporal and social contexts of slavery and imperialism. For example, how do the growing calls for reparations and the urge to restructure or challenge the politics of commemoration within imperialist societies point to the emergence of new “conceptual-ideological problem-spaces” (Scott, Conscripts of Modernity) in how African-Atlantic postcolonial communities engage with historical memory? How will an analysis of these dynamics, of the gaps they point to, and of the urgencies they highlight, foster new understandings of the stakes that the particular memories of slavery and imperialism bear within the spaces marked by this history, including the imperialist societies themselves?

In tackling these questions, we wish to consider the valences of performance in the contemporary moment and the extent to which they are cross-fertilising and mediating the most urgent issues in Africa-Atlantic memory. We wish to reflect on how spaces and modes of performance – including, but not limited to, theatre, dance, literary texts, music, visual art and sports – are being used to energise both the particular and the entangled concerns of aesthetics, politics and epistemology within the memories linked to African-Atlantic colonialism and slavery. Are contemporary performances of memory, particularly those that point to African and Afro-diasporic alternatives to Euro-Western modes and models, reflecting historico-political and cognitive shifts in how the relationship between African-Atlantic pasts, presents and futures is conceived?

The three-day international conference “Memory and Performance in African-Atlantic Futures” seeks to approach these issues from a vigorously cross-/inter-disciplinary perspective. We invite scholars, artists, curators and other professionals within fields as varied as literature, theatre and the performing arts, visual art, history, law, anthropology, cultural studies, to engage in a conversation around the dynamics of memory within the historical framework of African-Atlantic slavery and colonialism and the political, aesthetic and epistemological specificities that they engage in the current moment. We hope to underscore how these dynamics, too often overlooked in the critical and theoretical sites of memory studies, are currently shaping, reshaping and (re)mediating the global flows of memory.

We propose two main axes of investigation:

Shapes and forms of memory

How do we think the forms and effects of the enfleshed, material memories of slavery, colonialism and their afterlives and the ways in which these are enlisted in the spaces of performance, be they physical (theatre, dance, ritual, oral performance, etc.) or textual (the different performative manifestations of the written word)?

This question necessarily involves a consideration of how African diaspora time-senses fashion modes of performance of memory and how oral and ritual performance forms impact, shape, record and encode memory in the context of colonial violence. Can African and diasporic forms of embodied memory become tools that combat imperialism? How can the performance of post-slavery/ post-Empire memory shed new light on Western theories of memory that emerge from Holocaust studies or on Western theories of haunting, trauma and mourning?

Epistemologies of memory

What challenges do African diasporic modes of memory bring to Euro-Western epistemologies of justice, History, and the human? How does postcolonial memory call into question the social deployment of memory within the nation and across nations? At a time when the movement for reparations for slavery in the African diaspora is achieving unprecedented momentum, we invite contributions that question settled understandings of the triad of time, history and justice and those that address postcolonial engagements with memory through “corrective” performance practices of justice, “truth-telling” and witnessing. Additionally, in considering institutional marginalization, suppression, and exclusion of postcolonial memories, we seek contributions about practices that challenge the order of remembrance in official commemorations, museums, schools, archives and discourses.


Papers may address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

·      media and memory

·      institutions of memory

·      performance of memory

·      memory and the law

·      memory and reparations

·      memory and colonial enlightenment

·      memory and ‘the human’

·      new ‘problem-spaces’ and memory

·      memory and futures

·      decolonising memory

·      decolonising the museum

·      decolonising the curriculum

·      citation as a politics of memory


Presentations should last no longer than 20 minutes.

Submission Guidelines


Abstracts in English of no more than 300 words should be sent to afroatlanticfutures@gmail.com by Friday, 2 March 2018. Please send abstracts in PDF or Word format, accompanied by the title of the paper and a short biography. ­­­­­­


The organising committee will communicate acceptance decisions no later than 9 March 2018. Please consult the conference website (https://www.africanatlantic.net/) where further details will be posted.


Conference Convener

Dr. Jason Allen-Paisant (University of Leeds)

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Dr. Louise Bernard (Museum of the Obama Presidential Center)

Prof. Lubaina Himid (University of Central Lancashire)

Prof. Tavia Nyong’o (Yale University)

Enquiries should be addressed to Dr. Jason Allen-Paisant (J.Allen1@leeds.ac.uk)


This entry was posted in Conferences, Leeds, Research.

POLIS seminar with Winnifred Bedigen – 16 November 2017


As part of the University of Leeds School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) research seminar series, you are warmly invited to a presentation by Dr Winifred Bedigen (University of Leeds):


Title:                     Understanding Empowerment through a Cultural Theory Lens: Women in the Horn of Africa

Date:                    Thursday 16th November

Time:                    4.15 – 5.45pm

Location:             Social Sciences Building 14.33


This paper seeks to clarify some of the misunderstood issues in current African women’s empowerment and development messaging. Some western scholars, by theorising women’s empowerment through western lenses, have found African women to be distinctively different, and yet have gone ahead to design and implement empowerment programs regardless. Others, though, point to high levels of women’s marginalisation in the Sub-Saharan region and the urgency to act. These are efforts to increase women’s involvement in peace and development work as they have become more mainstreamed by international institutions like the United Nations (UN), World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). This work explores African (the Horn) socio-cultural versions and emphases on women’s empowerment, pointing to their strengths, weaknesses, and what these might mean for policy and development practice.

This entry was posted in Seminars.

Sing Freedom – upcoming performances in Leeds

SING FREEDOM – A story with songs of liberation – Free Range Choir

When ANC activist Rusty Bernstein was arrested and tried alongside Nelson Mandela, the life of the family changed forever.  Their ‘privileged’ white existence was replaced by flight and exile.  ‘Sing Freedom’ is his daughter Frances’ story of her parent’s involvement in the struggle against apartheid.   It is accompanied by Free Range performing some of the emotive songs that helped to sustain the movement.

Two performances of SING FREEDOM in December in Leeds


7.00pm on Sunday 3rd December

at the Weetwood Hall Hotel, Otley Road, Leeds LS16 5PS

​Tickets £6.00 from Makor.  tel 0113 2680899    info@makor.co.uk

or Pay at the Door

7.00pm on Saturday 9th December

at the Roscoe Methodist Church, 132 Chapeltown Rd, Leeds LS7 4EE

Tickets £5.00  Pay at the Door

Follow this link for more information about Sing Freedom


This entry was posted in Concert, History.

CfP: Finding Africa seminar series 2018 – Theorising Africa: Reviewing a History of Ideas


Dear All,

Calling Africanists from all disciplines and departments, and those with an interest in broader issues surrounding African Studies:

Finding Africa is pleased to announce its seminar CFP for the academic year 2017/2018. Our topic is “Theorising Africa” and all topics are welcome.


                                    Finding Africa 2017/18 (UK)

Theorising Africa: Reviewing a History of Ideas

University of Leeds

Seminar Series 2018


The field of cultural theory has – for as long as it’s been a discipline – been dominated by Western epistemologies.  Our ways of knowing have, undoubtably, always required a framework through which they can be conceptualised – or even legitimised. The consequence of this institutionalisation of thought, which has its roots in a myriad of complex historical and structural implementations of power, is that other epistemologies often get overlooked or even rebranded under different names or theories, at the behest of fitting the demands and criteria of Western academe. The notion of a history of ideas that is grounded in a Euro-American paradigm obscures, and limits, our understanding of and engagement with the multiplicities of meaning at work in cultural analysis. Theorising Africa seeks to explore what it means to be human, to be a member of society, through the exploration of identity, aesthetics, and politics by placing cultural theory and African epistemic frameworks in dialogue.

The concept of Ubuntu finds its distorted counterpart in some versions of post-humanist thought. Ideas of community deriving from Igbo cosmology similarly find their traces – albeit inversely – in much of the discourses pertaining to community building in the fields of cultural theory, law, and literature. Subverting the closure inherent in binary oppositions, we seek to bridge the divide that has so far disadvantaged African epistemologies on the academic platform, entering into dialogue and engaging with a richly diverse history of ideas.

For this seminar series we are interested in looking to Africa for its history of ideas: How has African thought transcended boundaries and how can it continue to do so? What can African thought contribute to the many blind spots in the fields of cultural theory? How can these contributions account for the work of knowledge-making? In what ways are these contributions necessary?

We seek papers and proposals on topics including, but not limited to:

·         African literary theory

·         Reframing the history of ideas – philosophical interrogations

·         Cultural analysis

·         Psychoanalysis

·         African Futures

·         Law

·         Politics and bio-violence

·         Feminisms and policy

·         Community building

·         The creaturely

·         Animism

·         Theology

·         Art History

·         Challenges to the legacy of the writer

·         Any non-conforming inquiry which doesn’t fall into a field

Please get in touch with proposals (max 300 words + bio) in Word format to findingpocoafrica@gmail.com by 10 January 2018.

Finding Africa

United Kingdom & South Africa


Twitter: @findingafrica


This entry was posted in Finding Africas, Leeds, Research, Seminars.

Extraction, industry and finance: implications for South African sustainability

Extraction, industry and finance: implications for South African sustainability

Wednesday September 27th, 4:00 pm – 5:15 pm

Sustainability Seminar hosted by the Sustainability Research Institute:

Speaker: Prof Samantha Ashman, Director of UJ-IDEP MPhil in Industrial Policy, and Co-ordinator of the Industrial Development and Policy Research Cluster

Location: University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment L8 seminar rooms
(Maths/Earth and Environment Building)

South Africa’s system of accumulation has historically been skewed towards a narrow set of capital intensive sectors concentrated on mining and energy, with strong linkages between each other and weak linkages with the rest of the economy. Three state owned enterprises in electricity (ESKOM), iron and steel (ISCOR) and liquid fuel from coal (SASOL) have played a central role in this, with the latter two being privatized in the 1980s and 1970s respectively. Since the defeat of apartheid and the introduction of democracy in 1994, the government of the African National Congress has made a number of strategic choices which have led to the increasing financialization of the economy and de-industrialization, with growing crises of poverty, unemployment and inequality being amongst the results. A central feature of this changing system of accumulation has been its carbon intensity, and its reliance upon abundant low cost coal. Over 90% of South Africa’s electricity production remains coal-fired, and coal has been in addition a commodity for export, and the critical input for SASOL’s liquid fuel programme. Whilst clearly unsustainable, South Africa demonstrates how there are many challenges in managing a low-carbon transition. Understanding the political economy of the country and vested interests, both national and international, remains critical.


Sam Ashman is Professor in the Department of Economics and Econometrics at the University of Johannesburg. She is the director of a master’s programme in Industrial Policy run jointly with IDEP, the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, which is based in Senegal and is part of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Her research interests include financialisation and its impact on economic development and employment, industrial policy in both South Africa and Africa as a whole, and South Africa’s evolving political economy.


This entry was posted in Leeds, Seminars.

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