Key words: carceral, rural, globalization studies, postcolonial theory, South Africa, ubuntu.
I teach at the Literary and Cultural Analysis department at the University of Amsterdam, am affiliated with the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) and am a board member of the Amsterdam Young Acadamy (AYA).
My current research developed from my monograph on representations and strategies of community formation in contemporary South African culture. The central logic of inclusion and exclusion in how communities come together, are sustained, and most of all represented, got me interested in peripheral spaces in the globalized present. I focus specifically on carceral spaces and the rural, and the narratives and metaphors generated in, about and around those spaces.
I am a postdoctoral researcher in the comparative ERC project Rural Imaginations, which aims to address the fact that globalization is often considered a predominantly urban phenomenon and that the impact of globalization on the rural tends to be neglected. Zooming in on South Africa, I focus on the crucial role played by cultural imaginations in determining what aspects of contemporary rural life do and do not become visible nationally and globally, which, in turn, affects how the rural can be mobilized politically.
I am also interested in how the seemingly peripheral space of the prison is represented in literature and popular culture and how these representations are instrumentalised in thinking carcerality across different contexts, in my case in the Netherlands, the United States, and South Africa.
This special issue asks how the carceral, the rural and the colonial intersect in the Dutch Colonies of Benevolence. How do current uses obscure the Colonies’ uncomfortable connections to Dutch colonization in the East and West Indies? Which views of Veenhuizen are actively pursued and sanctioned, and which are disavowed? In order to explore these connections and questions, this cluster brings together close readings of contemporary elements of Veenhuizen, the historical context of the Colonies of Benevolence, and its resonance with other contexts that pertain to the colonial, the agricultural, and the carceral. As the joint contributions show, imaginations of the rural offer an idealized setting for lofty ideals and spectacularized consumption that render the rural invisible as a situated territory traversed by various structures of power and control.
This book examines the ways in which ubuntu is continuously shaped and reshaped in different media in contemporary South African culture, such as literature, photography, cartoon art, journalistic fiction, and commercial television. It also studies ubuntu’s recent global dissemination and commodification, and critically assesses various approaches to ubuntu from different disciplines. From these various uses, ubuntu emerges as a powerful tool for thinking through problems of social inclusion and exclusion, and provides a nuanced perspective on what it means to strive for social harmony and communal unity. Ubuntu Strategies attends to the cultural production of ubuntu and argues that it is not just about being part of a common humanity, but also involves strategic decisions that balance self and other, particular and universal, local and global, difference and sameness, as well as violence and safety. The literary and cultural theoretical approach offered in Ubuntu Strategies thus provides a new perspective that addresses the role of representation in ubuntu, both supplementing and challenging legal and political inquiries of the concept.
Edited by Esther Peeren, University of Amsterdam, Hanneke Stuit, University of Amsterdam, and Astrid Van Weyenberg, University of Leiden.
This volume sheds new light on how today’s peripheries are made, lived, imagined and mobilized in a context of rapidly advancing globalization. Focusing on peripheral spaces, mobilities and aesthetics, it presents critical readings of, among others, Indian caste quarters, the Sahara, the South African backyard and European migration, as well as films, novels and artworks about marginalized communities and repressed histories. Together, these readings insist that the peripheral not only needs more visibility in political, economic and cultural terms, but is also invaluable for creating alternative perspectives on the globalizing present. Peripheral Visions combines sociological, cultural, literary and philosophical perspectives on the periphery, and highlights peripheral innovation and futurity to counter the lingering association of the peripheral with stagnation and backwardness.
"Zones of Confinement: Carceral Imaginaries in Ian Gabriel's Four Corners (2013)." Faculty Lecture, University of Amsterdam. April 2017.
"Van achter het glas: Florence in J.M. Coetzee's Age of Iron." Afscheidssymposium Ena Jansen. Spui25. Amsterdam. Juni 2016.
“The Bastardisation of History: Mythology in Tertius Kapp’s Rooiland.” African Arts and Literatures Today. RCMC, ASC and Studium Generale, Leiden. May 2016.
“Waiting for the Barbarians.” Academische Boekenclub. University of Amsterdam. February 2016.
"One Art van Elizabeth Bishop." Poezie en waanzin. Spui 25, Amsterdam. March 2015.
"Mythologie in Tertius Kapp's Rooiland." Bredie van Stories. Herinnering en geschiedenis in recente Afrikaanse literatuur. University of Leiden, Leiden. September 2014.
"The Affective Mobility of Ubuntu, or How Concepts Travel.” Cultural Encounters and the Discourses of Scholarship. University of Rostock, Germany. May 2013.
“The Ubuntu Strategy: Commodifications of Common Humanity in Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen, Germany. December 2011.
“By the Look of It: Community in Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases.” University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. August 2011.
"Prisons and Play: Heterotopia and Aesthetics in Prison Gaming." 2nd International Carceral Geography Conference, University of Birmingham, December 2017.
"Prisons and Parasites: Narrative Economies the South African Number Gangs." Narrative Conference, University of Amsterdam, June 2016.
Organiser OSL seminar "The Future Continent. Perspectives on Contemporary African Literature" March - June 2016.
Organiser Symposium "Human Nature? Memory, Ecology and Aesthetics in Contemporary Afrikaans Literature" Sept 2016
Co-organiser "African Arts and Literatures Today," April-June 2016.
Co-organiser (general co-ordination) of 2011 ASCA International Conference and Workshop Practising Theory: Imagining, Resisting, Remembering , March 2-4,2011.
In 2020-21 I teach the rMA Literary Studies course "Key Debates in Literary and Cultural Studies."
I encourage students to contact me if they want to organise tutorials that intersect with my research interests. I have no set office hours, so please make an appointment by email.
I am a postdoctoral researcher in the ERC Rural Imaginations project and co-coordinate the Peripheries Project research group within ASCA, which focuses on spaces that have, at specific points in history, been constructed as peripheral and explores the social, political and cultural meanings and effects of this inherently perspectival positioning, as well as its dynamic relationship to what is seen as central.