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Heroes, villains and the imagining of futures in Africa 
Vasco Martins (Centre for Social Studies)
Pedro F. Neto (Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa (ICS-ULisboa))
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Sociology (x) Decoloniality & Knowledge Production (y)
Philosophikum, S81
Thursday 1 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

The panel invites contributions that explore the representations of heroes and villains that nurture popular imagination and influence social order and political thought towards new futures. Submissions that use multimodal data to critically analyse figures and personas are particularly encouraged.

Long Abstract:

In 2015, Professor Ndlovu-Gatsheni published the book Mugabeism? History, Politics and Power in Zimbabwe, a seminal account of the historical and political meanings and decolonial shortcomings of Robert Mugabe's life and practice. Other authors have populated this field, producing work about more or less charismatic figures, turned heroes and/or villains in various contexts (Martins, 2020; F. Neto, 2017; Ahlman, 2017; Rantala, 2016; Fouéré, 2014). Rather than resorting to a more traditional historiography concerned with biographical accounts, this literature looks at ambiguous heroes and villains not only as mechanisms that allow the recognition of social threats (Lentz and Lowe, 2018), but as blueprints to create an archive for the future, one where the virtue and morality of people considered either heroes or villains appears to be more useful than historical account. This work acknowledges contemporary formats of reading political realities in Africa — and beyond — by invoking speculations and imaginations of pasts and futures yet to be (re)made. Heroes and villains can be read in a variety of analogue and digital formats, from news reports, speeches and articles, to political slogans and catchphrases, photographs, loose video and audio clips, videogames, memes, WhatsApp stickers, gifs, graffiti, etc.

The panel invites contributions from all disciplines to explore the origins, processes, representations and uses of heroes and villains that nurture popular imagination and influence social order and political thought to create new futures. We particularly encourage submissions that use multimodal empirical data to critically analyse the representations and imaginaries of figures and personas.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 1 June, 2023, -