STREAM: Celebrating the Work of Karin Barber

STREAM: Celebrating the Work of Karin Barber

This stream celebrates the work of Karin Barber as she retires from her position as Professor of African Cultural Anthropology at the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham. Over the course of her career, Karin Barber has inaugurated new fields of study, such as African popular culture, and has developed new approaches to Yoruba oral genres such as oríkì, and to the anthropological study of African texts and textuality, including a generative approach that traces the emergence of forms from the ground up. She has translated and edited works of Yoruba literature including Ìtàn Ìgbésí Aiyé Èmi Sẹ̀gilọlá; documented the history of the Yoruba travelling theatre; and offered major contributions to comparative anthropological studies across Africa, particularly in the fields of orality, popular culture, African languages, and ‘tin trunk literacy’. During her joint editorship of Africa with David Pratten, Barber developed the ‘local intellectuals’ strand, which provides a platform for scholarship on the African production of knowledge, and local African thinkers and writers.

This stream invites panels that reflect upon Barber’s work, and offer directions for exciting new research in Anthropology and African Studies.

Proposals for panels are invited that offer contributions to fields in which Barber has worked, including but not limited to:

  • Orality
  • Popular culture
  • Performance and theatre
  • Yoruba studies, especially Yoruba language
  • Print culture
  • ‘Tin trunk literacy’ and local intellectuals

We also invite thematic and conceptual panels that investigate particular ideas within Barber’s work. These could include, but are not limited to:

  • Creativity and heterogeneity
  • The generative approach to the emergence of new genres and forms
  • Publics and audiences
  • Multilingualism, translation, and the pleasures of language
  • Anthropology and the text

Panels are invited that reflect on the continued significance of any of Barber’s works. These could include, but are not limited to:

  • ‘Popular Arts in Africa’ (1987)
  • I Could Speak Until Tomorrow (1991)
  • The Generation of Plays (2000)
  • Africa’s Hidden Histories (2006)
  • Print Culture and the First Yoruba Novel (2012)

If you have any queries or suggestions please contact Insa Nolte ( ), Rebecca Jones ( and Ceri Whatley ( .  For panel and paper submissions please follow the instructions on the website 

Photo Credit: Video shoot in Rwanda, 2015. Courtesy of Mani Martin.

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