TNS Seminar Wednesday 14th December: Dr Eleanor Jones & Dr Scott Soo

‘Death: the end of our stories, or only the beginning?’

When: Wednesday 14th December, 5-6.30pm

Where: Room 1177, Building 65, Avenue Campus

Who: Dr Eleanor Jones –  ‘Death stories: encountering the corpse in narratives of Lusophone Africa’

From the earliest days of European maritime expansionism in the fifteenth century, when the unknowability of the territory south of the Sahara inspired terror in the hearts of Portuguese crews, to those enduring turn-of-the-millenium photographs of infant famine victims in Sudan, Africa has been synonymous with death in the Western imagination. Throughout that period, this Western entanglement of Africa with death has provided a circular justification for the objectification and instrumentalisation of African bodies, as well as contributing to the traditional failure of the Western academy to productively theorise the dynamics of power at work on the continent.  While more recent theoretical work on mechanisms of power in Africa has successfully recentered death in its methodologies, these analyses often neglect the specificities of the Lusophone case, despite the historical characterisation of Portuguese colonialism as, variously, more violent and more intimate — in short, more embodied — than any other. With this talk, I seek to lay out some starting points for exploring the relationship between Lusophone African coloniality and death, beginning where the two intersect: with the corpse. In addition, I seek to present some thoughts on how dead bodies have been used by political and cultural actors during the afterlife of colonialism in Lusophone Africa, in ways that have both maintained and disrupted dominant narratives of power.

Dr Scott Soo – ‘(Re)moving stories: closure and commemoration at the Gurs internment camp’

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