New forms of literature are emerging in African megacities, outside the established publishing industry. The African Street Literature project aims to make such material accessible through the Nordic African Institute library, and to explore how the urban context is affecting literary form.
What happens to literary expression under extreme social pressure? Does it thrive? Or does it become irrelevant when life and health are precarious, when everyday life is radically unpredictable, when development is so fragmented and uneven that it neither elicits hope nor expectation, and when violence is both immediate and spectacular (terrorism, civil unrest) and incremental and invisible (environmental, epidemic).
Such are the conditions of everyday life in contemporary African megacities. While some global forces have boosted African economies, others, such as climate change, forced migration, epidemics, and increasingly rapid urbanisation have left African spaces amongst the most precarious in the world. Our project asks what happens to literature under such extreme forms of precariousness and unpredictability? How does literature function in such environments, and how are literary forms shaped by these contexts?