Absinthe: World Literature in Translation is happy to announce the print release of volume 26, our 2020 issue contemplating the implications of Africa and its diasporas in translation.
Co-edited by Frieda Ekotto, Imani Cooper Mkandawire, and Xiaoxi Zhang, the Africana issue features contributions across various languages and media, including Lugos, Kamba, English, French, Swahili, Arabic, Adinkra Symbols, visual codes, digital languages, digital collage, and photography. Absinthe is edited and published by the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, in conjunction with MPublishing.
A note from the guest editorial team for VIBRATE!
We began working on this issue of Absinthe to draw attention to the politics behind language in African literature, and to move toward envisioning a more equitable and linguistically inclusive publication environment for African and African diasporic voices. We reached out to writers of African descent using both colonial and local African languages, as well as translators and artists interested in the poetics of translating blackness and Africanity.
We previewed the Africana issue in a December 2019 Absinthe Reading, where we had the pleasure of hearing select works from faculty and students at the University of Michigan alongside renowned African writers. The reading was dedicated to cultivating spaces and practices in which black voices are heard within the academy, to prevent experiences like #blackintheivory and to eradicate institutionalized forms of inequity in our own profession.
VIBRATE! also resonates with the June 2020 Open letter: African writers in solidarity with African Americans, written in response to unarmed Black Americans who had fatal encounters with the police. Like those writers (some also contributors to our issue), we choose to “recognise the alliances and connections” throughout black diasporas within and outside of Africa, as part of a global upheaval to eradicate anti-blackness.
And now in our Covid-19 context, where the welfare of marginalized communities is rendered further at risk along with the viral display of violence against Black bodies, we understand our work for this issue of Absinthe more profoundly: the Africana issue questions the inner workings of power within language and extricates Africana expression, to support the right to tell a story in your own words, without having a fatal encounter. It is about the quiet revolution that happens when systems and practices are put in place to listen to Afro voices.
–Frieda Ekotto, Imani Cooper Mkandawire, and Xiaoxi Zhang