Creative Industries Festival: Disruptive Dialogues: the Creative Legacies of Dambudzo Marechera

A project-in-progress drawing on Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera's legacy to generate architectural interventions and poetry by people with experience of homelessness

In the early 1970s, the still-unknown Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera came to Oxford on a scholarship, but soon found himself at odds with the university and living homeless in Oxford. Spending part of his time in a tent in Port Meadow, Marechera wrote the first drafts of The House of Hunger, the book which won him the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1979 and launched his career. Marechera's writing and his experiences in Oxford throw up uncomfortable questions about the city, institutions, and the spaces we live in - but they also show how artistic production can act as a form of resistance to oppressive structures of power.

In this talk, Dr Tinashe Mushakavanhu and Dr Niall Munro will share some of the results from their project-in-progress, which is funded by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities as part of its Humanities Cultural Programme. Drawing on Marechera's legacy in Zimbabwe as well as the creative work generated by the project so far, which includes poetry by people with experience of homelessness in Oxford and architectural interventions into Marechera's writing, they will outline how a writer like Marechera can spark new ways of thinking and being.

Dr Tinashe Mushakavanhu is a Junior Research Fellow in African and Comparative Literature at the University of Oxford. His research explores the role of literary culture in documentation, historical knowledge, and political power, and his publications include A Brief History of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (forthcoming), and Reincarnating Marechera: Notes on a Speculative Archive (2020). Dr Niall Munro is a Senior Lecturer in American Literature at Oxford Brookes and Director of the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre. His work examines the disruptive effects of cultural memory, especially after war, and his current research focusses on the way in which modernist writers 'remembered' the American Civil War. His publications include Hart Crane's Queer Modernist Aesthetic (2015), and the co-edited volume On Commemoration: Global Perspectives upon Remembering War (2020). This session will be chaired by Mariama Sheriff of the Oxford Brookes Business School.

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Daniela Treveri Gennari