Image and video credits: Mosa Kaiser, Kate Naluyele, Pura Lavisa, Kabelo Mofokeng, Mia Louw, Sharlene Khan



Dr Lynda Spencer:

Prof Sharlene Khan:


Departments of Fine Art

Wits University

Johannesburg, South Africa



© 2017 by Art on our Mind
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In 2017, the first Rhodes University African Feminisms (Afems) Colloquium entitled Six Mountains on her Back: (Re)Thinking African Feminisms was held on the 21st and 22nd July 2017 as a collaboration between Finding Africa (Thando Njovane), the Rhodes University Department of Literary Studies in English (Dr Lynda Gichanda Spencer), and Fine Art (Dr Sharlene Khan and the Art on our Mind Research team). Although planned as just a one day symposium, the overwhelming number of presentation local and international applications required its development into a two day full colloquium. Twenty-nine papers were presented, and the colloquium was attended by over 100 people. The keynote was presented by Dr Danai Mupotsa on “Feminism is Sensational”.


 The colloquium also hosted a two hour creative dialogue Thinking Through, Talking Back: Creative Theorisation as Sites of Praxis-Theory hosted by Dr Sharlene Khan with Prof Pumla Gqola, Dr Yvette Abrahams, Dr Betty Govinden and Prof Neelika Jayawardane. Dr Sharlene Khan also launched her artist book I Make Art (2017), with a reading of poetry by Dr Betty Govinden and a performance by Siphokazi Jonas. The evening also featured the opening of the exhibition Being Here, Becoming Her curated by Refilwe Nkomo and Thato Mogotsi of the !Kauru Contemporary Collective (and co-curated by Ms Buhle Siwendu and Dr Sharlene Khan). The exhibition showcased African women artists from across the continent, staff and students from Rhodes University.


The project was funded by the National Research Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Rhodes University.



Afems hopes to be a yearly African feminist-centred space for dialogue and creative expression, as well as intellectual engagement and social networking. It is organisers take pride in this being a local African feminist-of-colour generated and funded space of rigorous scholarship and creativities, which seeks to highlight African feminist scholarship generated inside and outside the continent.

As such, Afems provides a platform for research ideas and current research by students and established scholars, highlighting Rhodes University’s Departments of Literary Studies in English and Fine Arts collaborations around African feminist engagements in literature, popular culture, the visual arts and art history.



Dr Lynda Gichanda Spencer (Senior Lecturer, Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University)

Lynda Gichanda Spencer is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Literary Studies in English at Rhodes University. She has also taught in the field of English and African Literary Studies at Stellenbosch University, the University of South Africa and Vista University. Her research interests include contemporary women’s popular writing, popular culture in Africa, African women’s writing, Eastern African fiction, African cultural studies and transnational literatures. She is the principal investigator of Urban Connections in African Popular Imaginaries and editor of The Journal of Eastern African Cultural and Literary Studies.

Prof Sharlene Khan (Associate Professor, Department of Visual Arts, Wits University)





Sharlene Khan is a South African visual artist and scholar. Khan works in a range of media which focus on the intersectionality of race, gender and class and the socio-political realities of a post-apartheid, post-colonial society. She uses masquerading as a decolonising strategy to interrogate her South African heritage, as well as the constructedness of identity via rote education, art discourses, historical narratives and popular culture. She has exhibited in various local and international exhibitions (most recently at the Thessaloniki Biennale), and has participated in a number of international visual artist workshops and residency programmes (Egypt, South Korea, India, France, Mauritius). She was recipient of the Rockefeller Bellagio Visual Arts residency in 2009, and went on to serve on the Rockefeller Bellagio International Arts and Literary Arts panel for six years thereafter. She is second prize winner of the German 2015 VKP Bremen Video art award, and has been twice nominated for the South African Women in Arts Award (Painting). She is a 2017 recipient of the American Learned Councils African Humanities Postdoctoral Award. She has presented academic articles and performances at numerous conferences internationally and has published articles in Manifesta, Springerin, Artlink, Artthrob, Art South Africa. She holds a PhD in Arts from Goldsmiths College, and has lectured in Visual Arts at the Univesity of South Africa (UNISA) and was Senior Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture at Rhodes University. She is Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She runs the National Research Foundation Thutuka funded project Art on our Mind, that holds public dialogues with South African women-of-colour visual artists on their creative methodologies. She is co-convener of the African Feminisms (Afems) Conference at Rhodes University, and coordinates the bi-weekly reading group Black Feminist Killjoys. In July 2018 she launched the Andrew Mellon funded Decolonial AestheSis Creative Lab. She is the editor and publisher of the artist books What I look like, What I feel like (2008); I Make Art (2017) and When the moon waxes red (forthcoming).

Ms Thando Njovane (PhD candidate Rhodes University and co-founder of Finding Africa)

Thando Njovane is a PhD candidate currently working on Postcolonial African Fiction and Trauma. Her project investigates possible ways of revising the Eurocentricism of trauma theory to account for difference in the African postcolony by interrogating literary contributions to the debate. Her research interests include Psychoanalysis, Social and Political Philosophy, Higher Education, Intersectional Feminisms, & Literature. Her PhD project is supervised by Dr Sue Marais, and funded by the Patrick and Margaret Flanagan trust and the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. She works on an ESRC/NRF project on student experience in higher education, a transcontinental project involving the Rhodes Centre for Higher Education Teaching and Learning (CHERTL). She is also a researcher in the Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST), and a Dar Es Salaam Writing Fellow. Njovane is the founder and co-director of the Finding Africa - Interdisciplinary Postcolonial African Studies. Finding Africa is an independent postcolonial African studies platform that facilitates interdisciplinary dialogue by various agents, mainly in the form of seminars, both in academia and beyond. Seminars are hosted by the University of Leeds’ Centre for African Studies in the UK and by the Rhodes University English Department in South Africa, and we welcome academics from the UK, South Africa, and beyond. The seminar series is committed to providing a platform for researchers and interested others to share knowledge, open up questions, and explore issues relevant to postcolonial Africa. Finding Africa’s current associations include the Northern Postcolonial Network, the University of Leeds’ Centre for African Studies (LUCAS), University of Leeds’ School of English, Manchester Postcolonial Reading Group, the University of Stellenbosch’s Literary Project (SLiPnet), the Yorkshire African Studies Network, Rhodes University English, and the University of Leeds’ Postcolonial and World Literatures Reading Group. The Finding Africa blog also welcomes contributions from writers, artists, journalists, publishers and others with an abiding interest in Africa, and seeks to expand the scope of conversations about the continent.




UCAPI and Art on our Mind 2018 teams








Art on our Mind 2017 team

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