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"Nervous Conditions," by Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga, is on the conference reading list.
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WIU to Host International African Literature Conference in April 2008

December 19, 2007

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University and the department of African American studies will host the 34th Annual African Literature Association Conference April 22 -27, 2008.

The African Literature Association is a professional organization open to everyone including scholars, teachers and writers from all countries. Its purpose, and its annual conference, is to open the world of African literature to a worldwide audience as well as connecting artists with scholars.

Some 400 worldwide members of the African Literature Association (ALA) are expected to attend the annual conference with the theme "African and African Diaspora Women Writers, Global Challenges and Cultural Identity."

The theme celebrates the creativity, versatility and vibrancy of the women of Africa and African Diaspora, said Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah, WIU's African American studies chair and a conference co-convener. Papers will be presented on literally dozens of topics, including: African literature and human rights; African language literature; cinema and the global hegemony (predominant influence/domination); viewing gender through the lens of African literature, environment, politics and the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa; pedagogy in African and African Diaspora literatures and children's literature in African traditions; and many others topics, he added.

"We think people attending from around the world will see Western as one of the most beautiful, progressive and excellent academic campuses in the nation, and we're proud to showcase our University," Na'Allah said. "By attracting this international conference to campus, the African American studies department can share with students, faculty and people from the region the richness of one of our several discipline areas: literature, film, post-colonial theory, Africana politics and more."

Some events will be enjoyed by the greater Macomb community, as well as K-12 students and teachers throughout the region. Public readings geared to adult and child audiences, African films and many other events will be open to the public, Na'Allah said.

"We encourage all lovers of literature and members of reading groups to take advantage of this conference," he added. "We have created a link at for a reading list of recommended books by writers from around the world who will be attending the conference."

The Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (MACVB) is handling conference registration and site-seeing tours. The registration form, available on or the MACVB website at - - click on the "ALA Conference Form" balloon - - includes single-day registration options for area residents who are interested in attending some of the sessions.

"We are thankful for such a great relationship between WIU and Macomb; and in particular, the support we have from the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau," Na'Allah said.

"There are many departments on campus including theatre and dance, English and foreign languages and literatures, sociology and anthropology, history and mathematics that have collaborated with us to get this conference to Western," he added. "Many Illinois universities and colleges are on board as co-sponsors: Monmouth College; Northwestern University; the University of Illinois at Chicago, at Urbana-Champaign and at Springfield; and Knox College; and many are playing major roles in organizing this conference."

Information about the 2008 ALA conference will be updated frequently at For more information, contact co-conveners Na'Allah or Igolima Amachree, WIU sociology professor, at or contact: Department of African American Studies, 1 University Circle, Morgan Hall 232, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455-1390 USA, telephone 309/298-1181, fax 309/298-2181.

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