Portraitfoto Dr. Deborah Nyangulu

Dr. Deborah Nyangulu

Contradiction, Hashtag Activism and Pluriversal Knowledge Production

Hashtag Activism on social media is fraught with contradictions and yet it continues to proliferate into various aspects of sociality restructuring social action and ways of mobilizing publics, social movements and protests. This has in turn affected both public discourse and the contours of knowledge production opening up avenues for multiple and simultaneously occurring forms of knowledge authorization that may or may not challenge reified power hierarchies.  This project investigates how selected social movements which leverage the hashtag contribute to the theorization of the contradictory. Drawing on a range of theoretical sources and conjunctural analysis (Hall, Escobar), the project looks at how hashtag activism enables multiple local epistemic communities to co-exist, albeit in tension, but which by their very simultaneity and locality configure a pluriversal knowledge system.

Research interests
  • Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Contemporary African Literature & African Studies
  • Masculinities and Power
  • Social Media and Social Movements
  • Black freedom struggles
  • Critical Theory
  • Theories and history of nation, nationalism, & transnationalism
  • Contradiction

Academic Qualifications

  • 2019
    Doctor of Philosophy (English Philology) – Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster
    Dissertation Title Big Man Aesthetics: Masculiity, Power, and Contemporary African Literature.
  • 2013
    M.A. National and Transnational Studies: Literature, Language, Culture – Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster.
  • 2005
    B.A. Humanities (English and Classics) – University of Malawi, Chancellor College.

Professional Experience

  • 2022
    Guest Editor of Research in African Literatures’ special Edition Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift: Disruption.
  • since 2022
    Postdoctoral Researcher (RTG Contradiction Studies at University of Bremen.
  • 2020 – 2022
    Postdoctoral Researcher (English, Postcolonial and Media Studies at University of Münster).
  • 2019 – 2020
    Lecturer and Researcher (English, Postcolonial and Media Studies at University of Münster).
  • 2015 – 2019
    Lecturer and PhD Candidate (English, Postcolonial and Media Studies at University of Münster).
  • 2008 – 2010
    Senior Reporter and Columnist (Blantyre Newspapers Ltd, Times Group).
  • 2005 – 2008
    Reporter (Blantyre Newspapers Ltd, Times Group).
  • 2023
    Nyangulu, Deborah & Albert Sharra. Agency and Incentives of Diasporic Political Influencers on Facebook Malawi. In: Social Media + Society, 9.2. Accessible at: https://doi.org/10.1177/20563051231177936
  • 2022
    Editor for the Special Issue: Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift: DisruptionResearch in African Literatures 53.3. Accessible at: https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/50364
  • 2022
    Introduction: Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift: Disruption. In: Research in African Literatures 53.3, 1-22. Accessible at: https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/900030
  • 2022
    State of the Planet: Homi Bhabha and Namwali Serpell in Conversation. In: Research in African Literatures 53.3, 161-167. Accessible at: muse.jhu.edu/article/900039
  • 2020
    What’s in a Name? Renewing Socialism Via Decolonization. In: Knopf, Kerstin and Quintern, Detlev (Eds.) From Marx to Global Marxism: Eurocentrism, Resistance, Postcolonial Criticism. pp. 219 – 232.
  • 2020
    Espinoza Garrido, Felipe, Caroline Koegler, Deborah Nyangulu and Mark U. Stein (Eds.) Locating African European Studies: Interventions, Intersections, Conversations. Accessible at: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429491092
  • 2020
    Espinoza Garrido, Felipe, Caroline Koegler, Deborah Nyangulu and Mark U. Stein. African European Studies as a Critique of Contingent Belonging. In: Felipe Espinoza Garrido, Caroline Koegler, Deborah Nyangulu, and Mark U. Stein (Eds.) Locating African European Studies: Interventions, Intersections, Conversations. pp. 1-28. Accessible at: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429491092
  • 2019
    Foreword: More Than Patriarchy. In Anthology 2019: Stories of the Struggle for Education and Equality in Malawi. pp. 16-18.
  • 2018
    Big Men and Performances of Sovereignty in Contemporary African Novels. In: Research in African Literatures, 49. 3, pp. 101-115. Accessible at: https://doi.org/10.2979/reseafrilite.49.3.07
  • 2018
    Nationalism and the Postcolonial. In: ACOLIT 75, pp. 25-26. Accessible at: https://g-a-p-s.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Conference-Report-GAPS-2018_Nyangulu.pdf

Invited Talks

  • 2023
    Roundtable: Responsibility in Gender and Queer Studies. At the summer school Dialogues for Responsible Gender and Queer Studies: Experiences from the South of Africa and Germany. Universität Oldenburg. 24.06.2023 [Invited by Dr. Sylvia Pritsch]
  • 2022
    Guest lecture: Serpell’s The Old Drift: Disruption. At the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL), Amsterdam, Netherlands. 15.11.2022 [Invited by Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal and Dr. Astrid Weyenberg].
  • Online lecture: #GandhiMustFall Movement and Reclaiming Urban Space in Malawi. Forms and Spaces of Contemporary African Protests Online Lecture Series. Clusters of Excellence, The Politics of Inequality. 07.07.2022 [Invited by Drs. Billy Kalima and Jeannine-Madeleine Fischer, Konstanz University.
  • Engaged Pedagogy and Digital Activism. Activism and Academia Lecture Series. Graduate School Practices of Literature. 23.05.2022 [Invited by Dr. Anna Thiemann, University of Münster].
  • 2021
    Rethinking Knowledge in Transnational Terms. Theorizing African Diaspora(s). At the Anew Workshop. Bielefeld Zif Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies. 11.03-13.03.2021 [Invited by Prof. Dr. Gigi Adair, Bielefeld University].
  • 2020
    Online public lecture: Hashtag Movements and Decolonial Pedagogy.
    Invited by Prof. Dr. Annika Mcpherson, Universität Augsburg on 08.07.2020.
    Invited by Dr. Chandra Kanta Panda, Barabazar Bikram Tudu Memorial College on 24.06.2020.
    Invited by Arbeitskreis Kolonialismus, WWU Münster on 10.06.2020.
  • 2018
    Critical Reading and Public Discussion: Versklavung für Baumwolle. With Chatterjee, Sukla; Knopf, Kerstin; Quintern, Detlev. At Eine Uni- Ein Buch – Eine Stadt: Global Cotton, University of Bremen. 13.11.2018 [Invited by Prof. Dr. Kerstin Knopf, Bremen University].
  • Postcolonial Resurrections: Emerging Debates in the 21st Century Present. At Decolonize: Lange Nacht der Postkolonialen Perspektiven. Institut für Politikwissenschaft WWU Münster. 21.06.2018. [Invitation from student initiative Institut für Politikwissenschaft WWU Münster].
  • Lecture: Contemporary African Literary Studies Today. At the Lecture Series: African Scholars, Humboldt Haus WWU Münster. 23.02.2018 [Invited by the Humboldt Haus WWU, Münster].

Conference Papers

  • 2024
    Conference Black Atlantic Affordances. Contested Memory Cultures at University of Texas at Austin. 23.-25.02.2024.
  • 2023
    Media Ecologies: Pitfalls of Activism on Social Media Platforms. At the workshop Bridging Black Freedom Struggles Network Workshop. AmerikaHaus, Munich. 14.03-16.03.2023.
  • 2022
    Skeleton Subjectivity: Reading Derek Landy with Amos Tutuola. At the International Workshop on Contemporary Irish Literature. University of Leipzig. 08.09-10.09.2022.
  • Towards a Pluriversal African Literary System. At the Disobedient Forms Symposium. Stellenbosch, South Africa. 9.04-10.04.2022.
  • From a Colonial Memoir to Avengers: Infinity War: Historical Continuities of Racial Anxieties and Ecological Apocalypse. At Sketches of Black Europe: Imagining Europe/ans in African and African Diasporic Narratives. ZfLBerlin, Germany. 23.03-25.03.2022.
  • 2019
    The Self-help Genre and Public Intellectuals in the Digital Age. At Postcolonial Intellectuals and Their European Publics. Utrecht University. 05.02-06.02.2019.
  • 2018
    Performing Bigmanity: Masculinities in Meja Mwangi’s Rafiki Man Guitar’ At the ASA UK 2018 Conference, University of Birmingham. 11.09-13.09.2018.
  • Bigmanism and the Aesthetics of Power. At the GAPS International Conference: Nationalism and the Postcolonial, Johannes Gutenberg Mainz. 09.05-12.05.2018.
  • Marxism and Utopian Visions in Contemporary African Literature. At the lecture series Karl Marx, Marxism and the Global South, University of Bremen. 04.05-05.05.2018.
  • 2017
    Necropolitan Spaces in Meja Mwangi’s The Big Chiefs. At the African Literature Association Conference, Yale University, New Haven, USA. 14.06-17.06.2017.
  • 2016
    Hero(ines)/Villains in Time of War: Affirming and Subverting Big Man Power in Dongala’s Johnny Mad Dog. At the African Literature Association (ALA) 2016, Emory University and Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, USA. 06.04-09.04.2016.
  • Mapping a Big Man Aesthetics in Contemporary African Literature. At the European Conference on African Studies (ECAS-6), Sorbonne, Paris, France. 08.07-10.07.2016.
  • 2015
    The Postcolonial as False Totality. At GAPS: Ideology in Postcolonial Texts and Contexts, University of Muenster, 14.05-16.05.2015.
  • 2014
    “What is Africa?”. At the Young Scholars’ Meeting FUTURE AFRICA – Conference of the African Studies Association in Germany (VAD), University of Bayreuth, 11.06-14.06.2014.
  • Estranging a Strange Tyranny: Legson Kayira’s The Detainee. At Endnotes 2014 – Strangely Familiar Graduate Conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. 14.05-16.05.2014.
  • Winter Term 2015/16
    Übung Academic Skills
    Übung Communicating Texts and Theories
  • Summer Term 2016
    Bachelor seminar Introduction to Contemporary Anglophone African Literature
    Graduate seminar Narratives of Migration
  • Winter Term 2016/17
    Bachelor seminar Character and the Grotesque in post-Independence African Novels
    Bachelor seminar Criticism, Theory and Practice
  • Summer Term 2017
    Übung Communicating Texts and Theories
    Postgraduate Class Literary Studies
  • Winter Term 2017/18
    Übung Academic Skills
    Graduate seminar Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Summer Term 2018
    Übung Communicating Texts and Theories
    Graduate lecture series  Hotspots in Literary/Cultural Studies and Linguistics
    Graduate seminar Social Protests, Social Media, and Hashtag Movements
  • Winter Term 2018/19
    Bachelor seminar Understanding Critical Theory and Practice
    Graduate seminar Literary and Cultural Studies
    Postgraduate class Literary Studies
  • Summer Term 2019
    Übung Theory and Literature
    Übung Advanced Language Course
  • Winter Term 2019/20
    Graduate seminar Hashtag Activism and Shifting Public Spheres
    Postgraduate class Literary Studies
    Graduate seminar Nation, Nationalism, Transnationalism: Historical and Theoretical Foundations
  • Summer Term 2020
    Bachelor’s introduction class Introduction to Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Winter Term 2020/21
    Graduate seminar Nation, Nationalism, Transnationalism: Historical and Theoretical Foundations
  • Summer Term 2021
    Übung Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift: Theory and Literature
    Postgraduate class Literary Studies
  • Winter Term 2021/22
    Graduate seminar Nation, Nationalism, Transnationalism: Historical and Theoretical Foundations
  • Summer Term 2022
    Postgraduate class Literary Studies
decolonial scholarship

“Creating decentralizing and decolonizing scholarship on contradiction, contradictory phenomena, and contradicting processes is a challenging task.”

Kerstin Knopf

“The city is a laboratory not only of modernity, but also of contradiction.”

Julia Lossau
Is contradiction eurocentric?

“Is contradiction a eurocentric concept, operational phenomenon, and instrument of power?”

Kerstin Knopf
every day

“Living in contradictions is what we experience every day. Why do we know so little about it?”

Gisela Febel
ideal of a contradiction-free world

“Science has long been animated by the ideal of a contradiction-free world in which logical orders could merge with society, politics, culture and language. In the GRC Contradiction Studies we are working on ways of describing the multiplicity and complexity, the danger and beauty of our worlds that clearly go beyond concepts of freedom from contradiction.”

Michi Knecht