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Words on water: southern African literatures and the oceans

When: Friday, 14 September 2018 - Friday, 14 September 2018
Where: Braamfontein Campus East
WiSER Seminar Room, 6th Floor, Richard Ward Building
Start time:10:00

This talk will be delivered by Yvette Christiansë, a prominent poet, novelist and academic who has done more than most to put South African literature at sea.

Christiansë’s work has re-inserted slavery and the ocean into our literary awareness and she will be presenting her academic research on slavery and slave registers as part of the WATERSHED programme. Christiansë has published two collections of poetry and a novel, all concerned with themes of maritime slavery and its implication for South Africa. Her novel Unconfessed (2006) examines a slave from the Mozambique region, Silla who is imprisoned on Robben Island for killing her son. Her two collections of poetry Castaway (1999) and Imprendehora (2009) concern the intersection of slavery and indenture. After the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833, British naval squadrons in the Indian Ocean ‘freed’ slaves found on the vessels of French, Portuguese and Arab slave traders. These slaves were nominally liberated but where then consigned to work as indentured labourers. Christiansë explores the difficulty of reconstructing these double experiences of servitude. Born under apartheid, Christiansë emigrated with her family via Swaziland to Australia when she was 18. She lives in New York City where she works at Barnard College at Columbia University. Christiansë’s visit is sponsored by Oceanic Humanities for the Global South at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER).

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