CFP: Literary Connections between South Africa and the Lusophone World


We would like to invite chapter submissions for our edited book project tentatively titled:

Literary Connections between South Africa and the Lusophone World

This volume will be dedicated to a timely examination of the literary connections, across linguistic and cultural boundaries, between South Africa and the Portuguese-speaking world. South Africa, as a gateway to other African nations, receives the most intracontinental migrants on the continent, a total of 23% of all southern African emigrants are in South Africa. According to the Migration Data Portal, the two largest groups of immigrants in South Africa come from Zimbabwe and Mozambique respectively; Angola appears in third place. The histories and cultures of these countries intersect in many aspects. As a result, such encounters are often represented in literature. Depictions of South Africa in Mozambican literature are abundant. One of the reasons for this is a shared geographical border, which facilitates a diverse locus of historical and cultural ties (it is noteworthy also that this part of the world is inhabited by ethnically connected people; therefore, literary imaginaries of Black southern African writers share similar cosmologies about life, death, spirituality etc). To illustrate how South Africa is depicted in Mozambican literature, writers such as Lilia Momplé and Aldino Muianga often work on the theme of the Magaíças (Mozambican workers in South African mines). Momplé’s novel Neighbours (2012) focuses precisely (and ironically) on the neighbouring relationship between South Africa and Mozambique, as the title implies. Hinyambaan (2007), a novel by Mozambican writer João Paulo Borges Coelho, is another example of these connections, as it depicts an Afrikaans family crossing the land border in order to arrive in Inhambane, a beach in the south of Mozambique, and a holiday spot for South Africans. South African themes also pullulate in Angolan literature. Allusions to South Africa appear in Ondjaki’s Bom dia Camarada (2001), in José Eduardo Agualusa’s O Vendedor de Passados (2004), in Pepetela’s Mayombe (1979) to mention just a few examples. Going Home (2010) is a semi-autobiographical novel by Angolan writer Simão Kikamba.

The story is told in the voice of a political refugee living in South Africa. It investigates the life of one particular immigrant, Mpanda from Angola, and his experiences of trying to make the best of being an unemployed foreign national in South Africa. By the same token, some South African literary works depict the Lusophone world. For example, in The Institute for Taxi Poetry (2012), a novel by Imraan Coovadia, one of the central characters Antonia Chirindiza is a Mozambican. Another central character is a poet who spends his time between Brazil and Cape Town. Rebecca Fasselt, in an article on this novel, has argued that the ‘central developments in post-transitional South African literature has been a seeming shift towards an increasing transnational connectivity . . . and that Coovadia writes into being a new form of Southern connectivity.’ She notes that ‘his alternate history stands out in its radical rethinking of South African’s relations with other parts of Africa, focusing on Lusophone South, including Lusophone Africa.’ Skyline (2000), by Patricia Schonstein Pinnock, is a novel named after a block of flats located in Long Street, Cape Town, where immigrants, mostly escaping war in other African nations, live while they struggle to survive. The protagonist, Bernardo, is a Mozambican refugee and artist, whose presence serves as an important figure to the novel’s young narrator. With this in mind, we see in the reciprocal representations of South Africa in Lusophone literature, the possibility of reconnecting different geographical spaces and cultural links that have been neglected in order to gain broader perspectives on working with comparative literatures (see Elena Brugioni’s discussion on expanding the field of comparative African literatures). By exploring this, we seek pioneering discussions on these connections with an emphasis on its significance to Global South epistemes.

Possible topics may include (but are not limited to):

● Border writing that examines the cultural-space between Mozambique and South Africa, and between South Africa and Angola.

● Border crossings that examine migration in general, but especially the case of mine workers and war refugees in South Africa from Lusophone Africa

● Reciprocal representations of South Africa in the literary scene of Cape Verde, São Tomé e Príncipe, Guiné-Bissau, Timor Leste, Brazil, and Portugal

● Travel literature. The re(visitation) of early European travelogues and new investigation on non-European travelogues, (auto)biographies

● Representation of inter-related histories (colonisation, and slavery) and cultures.

● Transnational literatures and intellectual traditions from the Global South.

● Oral traditions; Indigenous epistemologies.

● Translation perspectives in literature.

● New readings and revisitation of colonial and canonical literature, for instance The Lusiads; new investigations on Fernando Pessoa's connections with South Africa

If you are interested in contributing with a chapter, please submit a 250-word abstract with a short bio to Ludmylla M. Lima (, Anita de Melo (, and John Maddox ( by 31 July 2021. Language of chapters is English.

Cape Town/ Salvador, 28 May 2021