Booker and Pulitzer winners to speak at Oxford conference | University of Oxford

Booker and Pulitzer winners to speak at Oxford conference

Oxford will lay claim to a European first next week when the University hosts a conference held by one of the world's leading African Diaspora scholarly groups.

The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) is the partner organisation for the first European conference arranged by Callaloo, a US-based academic journal specialising in the literature and culture of the African Diaspora. 

Held on 27-30 November at Pembroke College, the event will feature a series of public lectures, panel discussions and readings. Among the numerous high-profile speakers are Booker and Pulitzer prize winners. 

Dr Stephen Tuck, Director of TORCH, said: 'We are delighted to be welcoming Callaloo to TORCH and Oxford. For many of us, even in the busiest part of term, this is a "clear the diary" couple of days.'

Keynote speaker at the conference – titled 'The Transatlantic, Africa and its Diaspora' – will be the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the University of California, Irvine. Professor Thiong'o's work includes novels, plays, short stories and essays, ranging from literary and social criticism to children's literature. 

Other speakers include the Nigerian writer Ben Okri, whose numerous accolades include the 1991 Booker Prize for his novel The Famished Road; Pulitzer Prize-winning United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey; and the award-winning Scottish author Jackie Kay. 

Dr Tuck added: 'The speakers are quite exceptional, and the prospect of readings and talks on successive evenings by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Ben Okri and America's poet laureate Natasha Trethewey is very exciting.'

Dr Charles Henry Rowell, editor of Callaloo, said: 'During this period when the transatlantic discourse is rapidly developing, it is very important that the literary and cultural journal Callaloo joins that conversation by staging its 2013 conference at Oxford University.

'It is significant that Callaloo, the premier journal of the African Diaspora, inaugurates its first engagement with Oxford University on this transatlantic subject because of the central roles Oxford, as an educational institution, played in the origination and development of the African Diaspora. 

'It is our hope that this gathering is instalment number one – only the beginning – of what will become a very positive and cooperative long-term exchange and relationship between Oxford University and Callaloo.'

A related workshop for postgraduate and early career researchers on the subject of 'Britain, Europe, and the African Diaspora' will be held in the Radcliffe Humanities building on Wednesday 27 November. The event has been organised by Callaloo and TORCH's Race and Resistance across Borders in the Long Twentieth Century research network. More information is available here.

Callaloo was founded in 1976 and is currently based at Texas A&M University. The journal is published quarterly and aims to provide an outlet for new, emerging and established creative writers from the African Diaspora, as well as serving as a forum for literary and cultural criticism relating to the African Diaspora.