African Literature and Cancel Culture: The Algorithmic Age of Personality
Social media commentary discourses on African literary works reveal how algorithmic politics play significant roles in online literary controversies and cancel culture campaigns involving writers such as Chimamanda Adichie. Hence, a full understanding of how African literature takes shape in a digital era requires an appreciation of how algorithms not only compute and shape the social worlds and meanings of literary texts but also create and maintain a culture of outrage and controversy online. I address these issues in this talk, highlighting how an algorithmic age of personality connects to a pre-digital culture of literary disputes and censorship in African literature. I will argue that African literary criticism does not sufficiently interrogate the design and algorithmic politics of social media and blogging, despite their prominence as tools of digital storytelling and cultural production on the continent.

James Yékú teaches in the Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Kansas where he leads various initiatives in African digital humanities. He is the author of Cultural Netizenship: Social Media, Popular Culture, and Performance in Nigeria, and the collection of poems, Where the Baedeker Leads. He is currently an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow in the Department of African Literatures and Cultures at Humboldt University of Berlin.


Join us on Teams –
Date: 29 February 2024, 15:30 (Thursday, 7th week, Hilary 2024)
Venue: 13 Bevington Road, 13 Bevington Road OX2 6NB
Venue Details: Kirk-Greene Seminar Room
Speaker: James Yékú (University of Kansas)
Organising department: Centre for African Studies
Organisers: Dr Abigail Branford (University of Oxford), Dr Rachel Taylor (Oxford)
Organiser contact email address:
Part of: African Studies Seminar
Booking required?: Not required
Audience: Public
Editor: Emma Davies