African Feminisms (Afems) Conference 2020 Postponed Until 2021



Dear Collaborators and Participants,


We trust this finds you well notwithstanding the circumstances we all find ourselves in. The 4th Annual African Feminisms ( AFEMS) Conference was to be held August 27-29, 2020. Due to the unforeseen impacts of the Corona virus (COVID19), we have made the decision to postpone the AFEMS conference, either to the April term break or July Winter break in 2021. We will communicate a date to you in due course.


Although face-to-face teaching is scheduled to commence in October 2020, we understand that travel restrictions and social distancing regulations will not allow for an international conference to take place in 2020. However, we feel that it is important for the AFEMS community to make a critical intervention about feminist healing and solidarity within the context of the Corona virus pandemic through online platforms during 2020. To this end, we are considering inviting a few guests to host an online (Zoom) intervention about a feminist response to the current crisis – engaging issues such as the rise of gender-based violence, increased burden on womxn as caretakers (due to home schooling etc.) and social precarity. This would probably be a once-off event, we will communicate concrete details with you.


A second intervention would be to maintain an online African Feminists community – which allows for artists, activists, creative writers, academics and students – to share their responses/actions/critiques on a moderated AFEMS platform. This would have to be an ongoing intervention, aimed at also maintaining a dialogue and solidarity –because the isolation felt by the many feminists in their institutions/spaces, is exacerbated by social distancing. Using our current platforms – the AFEMS website, Twitter handle and Facebook page, as an ongoing virtual site. We are excited to post about this soon.


Overall, we want to stay in community and in conversation with you as we experience and respond to the challenges exacerbated and created by this moment. We look forward to our engagements with the AFEMS community  online in 2020 and to an in-person conference in 2021. 



Be well,


The AFEMS Committee


African Feminisms (Afems) 2020 | Call For Presentations

In Search of our Shrines: Feminist Healing and the Politics of Love

27-29 August 2020, University of Cape Town


The fourth edition of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference will be hosted from 27th – 29th August 2020 by the University of Cape Town (South Africa), in collaboration with the African Gender Institute, the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University and the Department of Visual Arts, Wits University.

The 2020 African Feminisms conference theme is inspired by the work of South African author and activist, Mmatshilo Motsei to engage with and interrogate feminist healing, courage and the politics of love as responses to political, gendered and other forms of violence. In her 2007 book The Kanga and the Kangaroo Court – Reflections of The Rape Trial of Jacob Zuma, Motsei writes:

"The renewal of the soul follows a path that cannot be legislated for in parliament or studied at a prestigious university. It is a way of finding a spark that will trigger a loving and compassionate way of being with who we are, after being told that we are of no substance and value."

The conference addresses alternative modes of knowledge production, ongoing implications of the divide between feminist theory and praxis, as well as intellectual and creative feminist strategies. What possibilities are offered by the multimodal, polyphonic, intersectional and deeply political work of feminist healing in societies that care little for women, queer and non-binary bodies and lives?


In a time of ecological collapse, neoliberal modes of governance that extend across institutions, the intensification and resurgence of racist and sexist public cultures, what are the possibilities for building worlds that are life-giving? How can practices of feminist healing ‘teach best what we most yearn for’ to bring about ‘revolutions of love and courage’ (Pregs Govender, 2007). What are the worlds yet to be built? What worlds, already in existence but not recognised by ‘deadened bureaucracies’ (Govender, 2007), can we build on and with for ‘renewal(s) of the soul’ (Motsei, 2007).

Inspired by Mmatshilo Motsei and Pregs Govender, Afems 2020 welcomes submissions from all scholarly disciplines and fields including paper presentations, conversations, themed convened panels, video-screenings, creative displays, book launches, as well as self- and group-care sessions around:


  • Themed panels on Mmatshilo Motsei’s body of work, Pregs Govender’s Love and Courage: A Story of Insubordination (2007) and an intergenerational conversation between feminist curators and artists.

  • Speaking out – complaints and protests and institutional(ised) violence

  •   Feminist and queer solidarity

  • Desire, sexuality and love as a political force

  • Histories and pedagogies of feminist care

  • Linguistic challenges, geopolitics and feminist solidarities

  • Feminist Affects

  • Space and embodied practices of care

  • Feminist Spirituality

  • Feminist Healing

  • Ecological Healing

Please email a 200 - 250 word abstract or proposal to afems2020@gmail.com by the 30th of April 2020

Paper and creative presentations are limited to 20 minutes, proposed panels and video screenings to one and a half hours.

Artwork by Natasha Vally