Call for papers: "Black women’s liberation and protests—Transnational musical storytelling" (Guest editors: Innocentia Mhlambi & Anita Gonzalez)


In this issue, we would like to bring together a set of academic articles that reflect on (trans)national African and African diasporic women’s musics and music-making as a site of storytelling, protest and liberatory discourses. Authors are invited to explore how black women’s music production is working in the texts they select in their regions or how women’s musics/music-making interphases with black (trans)national consciousness. Angela Davis in her 1990 publication, Black Women and Music: A Historical Legacy of Struggle, says that black women’s engagement with music points to complex relations between culture and socialisation. These relationships are oftentimes defined by layered and multivalent practices through which women as collective subjectivities have engaged in self-definition and the creation of knowledge systems that provide skills to mediate and navigate historical, cultural, political, social, and economic spheres, to form “safe spaces” for brokering power and the reclamation of black histories. In this issue, the editors would like to broaden the focus on music and music-making practices to include the production politics of music, the political and cultural economies of music/music making practices, and precolonial forms of women’s orality and performance cultures on the African continent and the African Diasporas.

This theme issue expands on earlier work that addresses the contributions of black women’s musicians and draws on  Eileen Hayes and Linda Williams’s book, Black Women and Music: More than the Blues (2007), which deploys interdisciplinarity of feminist and cultural frameworks that acknowledge the heterogeneity of black women’s musical experiences, black women’s self-actualisation, the agency of black women’s voices and their relationship to the construction of the dominant culture,  and black women’s resistance within constructed historical metanarratives. The issue will further engage Tammy Kernodle’s expansive discussions of frames for mediating the black postmodern aesthetic and its challenge to racial cultural and sonic modernities. Kernodle notes that the black postmodern aesthetic was always embodied in the creative works and experiences of black women, whose eclectic representations of sonic blackness and narratives of protests and resistance redefined the American cultural contexts and their metanarratives. This theme issue seeks to expand on some of her observations by drawing them to other regions of the black public sphere, such as South Africa and the continent.

The introduction to this theme issue of Tydskrif vir Letterkunde will offer substantive definitions of African and African Diasporic women’s storytelling traditions, with emphasis on their musics and music-making practices and the issues that arise out of associating (trans)national politics, race, class and gender in popular or serious musics and the black public culture.

The theme issue seeks to explore a range of perspectives on black women’s music and consider such questions as: How has black women’s music-making practices defined and redefined protests, resistance and liberatory discourses across different temporal and spatial frames, both within regionalised and transnational zones? In what ways have black women’s musics shaped, informed or catalysed social and political movements in Africa and beyond in its diasporas? Conversely, how do past and contemporary debates about black women’s music and their music-making practices inflect regionalised conception of protests, resistance and liberatory politics? How have insights from engaging black women’s music and music-making practices affected debates about the position of the black race in regional and transnational anti-black racism across the globe? What new genres or forms emerge or have emerged from African women’s musical traditions? How do African diaspora women’s performances become racialized and gendered as they cross national borders? How can scholars and artists deepen and broaden connections with marginalized indigenous communities while acknowledging and honouring indigenous epistemologies? How do approaches to feminist scholarship differ within indigenous settings? What are the social, economic and cultural challenges inherent in foregrounding women’s perspectives in art making? How do women and gender-fluid creators reconcile economic disparities as they develop exchanges with international funders and collaborators? How do African diaspora creators maintain the legibility and economic viability of their expressive art forms?

We invite any article which engages with the broad theme of Black women’s liberation and protestsTransnational musical storytelling. Possible topics include:

  • New genres and forms to emerge from African musical traditions
  • African diaspora women’s performances, race, and gender
  • Marginalised indigenous communities and indigenous epistemologies in music practices
  • Black women’s perspective and art making
  • Movement and imagination in black women’s music-making practices
  • Black women’s music and repertoires of oppression
  • Black women’s music and the dilemmas of the postcolony
  • Black women’s music and political ideologies
  • Black women’s music and the narratives of the enslaved
  • The language of black women’s music

Research articles written in English of no more than 7 500 words are invited for submission by 30 April 2025. All submissions must follow the MLA 9th edition citation guidelines. Authors must also ensure that their submissions adhere to all the requirements listed in the author guidelines of Tydskrif vir Letterkunde. 

Please submit for consideration an abstract of 200-250 words by 30 October 2024 to Your abstract should be accompanied by a cover letter indicating your name, institutional affiliation, full contact details, and a brief biography. If your abstract is accepted, please submit your anonymised article at

The publication date for the theme issue is April 2026.

For full TL author guidelines, please visit the website: Please note that authors affiliated with a South African university will be charged page fees (a flat rate of R10 000). Tydskrif vir Letterkunde is part of the Web of Science core collection and is indexed by Scopus and the Directory of Open Access Journals (SOAJ), among other indexes.