Africa as a textual construct: Who is entitled to write the text and who owns it?

"MOTS PLURIELS" is looking for contributions for its special issue on the theme of Discourse Ownership. Scholars interested in discussing this topic are encouraged to submit short articles for the Fall issue of the journal. The concept of discourse ownership goes far beyond legal considerations and relates to power, culture and identity. This special issue intends to emphasize literary, philosophical or socio-historical points of view in an attempt to broaden our reflection on the topic.

As has been the case with previous issues of "MOTS PLURIELS", things African are proposed as a focal point to investigate the issue, but the problematic goes above and beyond the African experience. Articles dealing with the theme as it is perceived elsewhere are strongly encouraged as they will enlarge the scope of the discussion and widen readers' reflection. Submissions are expected to address the strengths and limitations of different answers to fundamental questions such as:

- who owns the right to the word or text?
- who has custody of meaning ?
- whose business is it to decide who has the right to say/write something?
- who has the right to speak on behalf of someone else?
- what knowledge should be free to use by all? and which should not? etc.

At a micro level, issues such as plagiarism, literary hoax, ghost writing, usurpation of identity, impersonation etc. only make sense in relation to a specific understanding of what constitutes discourse ownership. Writers of every description (literary authors, historians, playwrights, journalists etc...) have written on behalf of, or about African people; men have written on behalf of women; the rich have made analyses of the poor etc; and it would be interesting to examine those manifestation in the context of our times and from alternative perspectives.

At a macro level the concept of "globalisation" which dominates the current political, economic and socio-cultural environment and consequently our lives, aims at delimiting anew the parameters of discourse ownership. In that context, it appears essential to examine critically what leads to the appropriation and colonisation of "minority voices". Equity issues need to be raised and notions of plurality acknowledged.

Submissions ( about 3000 words) should reach the editor by the end of August 1998

MOTS PLURIELS. Dr. Jean-Marie VOLET, Editor. The University of Western Australia. School of European Languages. Department of French Studies. Nedlands 6907. Australia. Fax: (+61 8) 6488-1182 Tel: (+61 8) 6488-2174 Email: [email protected]

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