Literature, Liberation and the Law, March 20-24, 2013

The 39th annual conference of the African Literature Association Charleston, South Carolina, March 20-24, 2013

Conveners: Simon Lewis (College of Charleston)

Conference Committee: Abdellatif Attafi, Mary P. Battle, Viviane Bekrou, Tim Carmichael, Claire Fund, Heather Gilbert, Shelia Harrell-Roye, Tyler Mobley, Jack Parson, Assan Sarr, Lauren Saulino, John Walsh, John White (all College of Charleston), and Debra Gammons (Charleston School of Law).

Thank You For Making This Conference A Success!!  THANK YOU! (pdf)

Download the conference flyer (pdf)
Download the ALA 2013: Why Charleston? presentation (ppt)
Download the ALA 2013 Call For Papers (pdf)
Download the ALA 2013 Final Schedule (pdf)

Now Available - Download the ALA 2013 Official Program Here! (pdf)

Register with your credit card click HERE now
To register and pay by check, please see the registration information provided below under "Registration NOW OPEN".

Marriot Hotel reservations must be made by February 18th!

Official ALA 2013 conference T-Shirts will be available for purchase during the conference!

All funds raised will go to benefit the ALA! More details available HERE.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

  • Leonora Miano, multiple award-winning Cameroonian writer
  • Nokugcina Mhlope, South African freedom fighter, activist, actor, storyteller, poet, playwright, director, and author
  • Judge Albie Sachs, former ANC activist and Constitutional Court Judge of South Africa
  • Binyavanga Wainaina, Caine Prize-winning Kenyan writer
  • Patrick Chabal, professor of modern African history and politics at King's College London
  • Cleveland Sellers, civil rights activist and President of Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina
  • Emory Campbell, community development activist, director of Gullah Heritage Consulting Services, former chair of Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor
  • Kurtis Lamkin, griot, poet, singer, storyteller
  • Alhaji Papa Susso, griot, master kora player, director of the Koriya Musa Center for Research in Oral Tradition
  • Call for Papers, Conference Theme, and Rationale

    From its inception the ALA has embraced the cause of liberation in Africa and the diaspora. Hosting the 39th annual conference in Charleston, SC in 2013, in the midst of Charleston's four-year arc of commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, and coincident with the 50th anniversaries of the Civil Rights movement and the era of African decolonization, allows the ALA to further its important intellectual and political contribution by contesting memory locally, nationally, and internationally. Mindful of these significant historical and geographical resonances, the ALA's 39th annual conference, "Literature, Liberation, and the Law," seeks papers that explore the manner and extent to which writing-whether in statute books or in literature-can bring about liberation. Invoking the conference's three key terms-literature, liberation and law-we encourage scholars to cross disciplinary boundaries in engaged and thoughtful ways as they reflect on how the legal, the political, and the literary are intertwined. More specifically, we anticipate investigations into, among other things

    • how liberation is inscribed in constitutions and declarations of human rights
    • whether mental liberation depends on one's own linguistic or legal framework
    • what literature has come out of, or has influenced, African and African diaspora emancipation movements from the age of Revolution to today
    • what relationships exist among literature, the law, and education, and to what extent literacy has empowered different groups at critical junctures
    • how different narrative forms have grappled with the problem of freedom, the experiences of immigrants, the struggle for representation.
    • whether the language of liberation is equally effective for all Africans irrespective of gender, class, ethnicity or sexual orientation
    • how effective writing can be in securing freedom from economic domination
    • to what extent literature or the law can provide security from environmental racism and/or the threat of ecocide
    • what the historical conflicts between liberty and equality are
    • how statutes attempt to amend and/or reconcile such conflict
    • to what extent new media and technology enable liberation

    Please send abstracts of up to 500 words for individual papers and/or four-person panels to Simon Lewis at lewiss [at] cofc [dot] edu before November 30th, 2012.

    Conference Hosts and Venue

    The conference is hosted by the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) program at the College of Charleston and the Charleston School of Law. Established in 1994, the CLAW program is dedicated to promoting scholarship on the Carolina Lowcountry, the Atlantic world, and the connections between the two. The program has established an impressive track record of conferences, symposia, seminars, and public lecture series, supported by significant digital archive initiatives and a book publication series with the University of South Carolina Press. Both the College of Charleston and the Charleston School of Law are committed to principles of diversity and international education, and both are acutely aware of the Africanness of Charleston and of the problematic history of race in our city.

    The city of Charleston is thus a compelling site for the conference. While clearly identified in public perception as the center of secession and hence of Jim Crow segregation, Charleston can lay claim to being the birthplace of African America-the city was the site of disembarkation of an estimated 40% of enslaved Africans brought to continental North America during the period of the Atlantic slave trade. Connections between Charleston and slave forts such as Goree Island in Senegal and Bunce Island in Sierra Leone are well documented. In the latter case it has been possible to trace the lineage of families living in this area to individuals shipped from Bunce Island to Charleston in the 1750s. Given these connections, Charleston remains to this day one of the most African cities in the United States, the geographical center of the federally funded Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. The city has particularly close ties to West Africa, not only because of the slave trade, but also because of the large number of African-American Charlestonians connected with "repatriation" and colonization projects in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The city also has extremely close ties to the Caribbean, having been founded as an offshoot of the colony of Barbados. Many freed slaves from Charleston found their way to the Bahamas, while refugees from St. Domingue [Haiti] played an important role in early nineteenth-century Charleston (not least in motivating Denmark Vesey's planned 1822 uprising), and filibustering Charlestonians sought to invade Cuba in the mid-nineteenth-century. Over the last two decades city authorities and private institutions have paid much greater attention to this history, preserving and marking key sites even as gentrification gnaws away at long-established communities.


  • The conference hotel is the Marriott Hotel, 170 Lockwood Boulevard, Charleston, SC 29403 (tel: 800-968-3569). A large block of rooms has been reserved at the special conference rate of $149 + tax per night. Book now while these discount rooms are still available!
  • Ground transportation

  • Cab or shuttle transportation is available from the Charleston airport, please inquire near baggage claim. The Marriott hotel also operates its own airport-hotel shuttle for $12. If you take a cab, make sure to let your driver know the hotel’s full name and that it’s on Lockwood Blvd (there are other Marriotts in town). If you are staying at another hotel for the conference, please look for that hotels’ respective shuttle van or use a cab. Conference participants may consider sharing taxis or rented cars for transportation.

    For information on ground transportation by shuttle to and from the Charleston airport, please see: Charleston Airport Transportation and Parking
  • For taxis, we suggest reserving airport transportation with:

  • Charleston Green Taxi or 843-819-0846
  • Yellow Cab of Charleston or 843-577-6565
  • *Please note that the conference hotel is in close proximity to downtown Charleston, but requires vehicle transportation to museums, shopping, and dining areas.You may want to rent a car, call a taxi, or use Carta's free DASH Trolly system to visit downtown destinations (trolly runs roughly from 8 am to 9 pm, check website for schedule and route information).

    Sightseeing information and Dining Suggestions

    Registration *NOW OPEN*

    Registration information for the 2013 African Literature Association Conference in Charleston, SC at the College of Charleston

    General Registration: $150 ($85 for students ($65 discount))

  • Meals:
  • ALA Banquet, Saturday March 23, 7:30 pm -$50

  • TRACALA Luncheon, Thursday March 21, 12:00 pm -$30
    • Keynote: Emory Campbell
  • WOCALA Luncheon, Friday March 22, 12:00 pm - $30
    • Keynote: Gcina Mhlope
  • Francophone Caucus Luncheon, Saturday March 23, 12:00 pm -$30
    • Keynote: Leonora Miano
  • LHCALA Luncheon, Saturday March 23, 12:00 pm- $30
    • Keynote: Patrick Chabal

    *Please note that you must register for the conference in order to register for the banquets or luncheons.

    Payment options:

  • Credit Card
  • To register by Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express, please use the following online registration link: ALA Conference 2013.

  • Check
  • To register by check, please make check payable to: "College of Charleston" with "ALA Conference 2013" in the memo line.

    Mail check and list your registration status (general or student) and your banquet and luncheon(s) selection in an attached note, to the following address:
    Simon Lewis, CLAW
    c/o English Department
    College of Charleston
    66 George Street
    Charleston, SC 29424 USA

  • Cash
  • We do not accept cash by mail, but if you decide to register in person at the conference you may use cash.

    claw wordmark