Peripheral realisms, friendship and resistance in the art and writing of Albert Adams and Richard Rive

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Centrum för genusvetenskap 12:07 (KWB)
  • Lecturer: Jade Munslow Ong, Professor of World Literatures, University of Salford, UK
  • Organiser: Centre for Gender Research
  • Contact person: Sanja Nivesjö
  • Seminarium

This seminar explores the role and importance of friendship in artistic expressions of anticolonial and anti-racist resistance.

About the seminar: This seminar explores the role and importance of friendship in artistic expressions of anticolonial and anti-racist resistance by considering a selection of paintings, illustrations and stories produced by two South African creatives: writer Richard Rive (1931-1989) and artist Albert Adams (1929-2006). Both Adams and Rive (whose archives and many artworks are held by the University of Salford Art Collection) were homosexual, “coloured”* men, coming to adulthood during the rise and election to power of the National Party and associated implementation of the policy of institutionalised racial segregation known as apartheid. The two men met in the early 1950s, established a lifelong friendship, and collaborated on two edited collections of short stories for the Heinemann African Writers Series (1963, 1964) - Rive as contributing author and editor, and Adams as illustrator. I consider examples of their art and writing in relation to theorisations of ‘peripheral realisms’  (Clancy 2012; Esty and Lye 2012; Jameson 2013), emerging as they do after the inaugurating modernist forms of South African literature, exemplifying a new impetus for anticolonial realism in the context of rising African nationalist and Pan-African movements at mid-century, and revealing that conventional understandings of the polarisation of realism and modernism are undermined by the art and writing producing by black and “coloured” writers living under the uniquely oppressive conditions of the South African semi-periphery at mid-century.  

*note that the term ‘coloured’ has a specific history and contested meaning in contemporary South Africa. It was originally used to refer to people of mixed-race descent predominantly based in the Cape, was deployed as legally-defined racial classification during the apartheid era, and forms one of a number of racial categories with a continued use, presence and power over South African lives (See Erasmus 2017). 

About the presenter: Jade Munslow Ong is Professor of World Literatures in English at the University of Salford. She is author of Olive Schreiner and African Modernism: Allegory, Empire and Postcolonial Writing (Routledge, 2018), co-editor with Andrew van der Vlies of Olive Schreiner: Writing Networks and Global Contexts (Edinburgh University Press, 2024), and has a co-authored book with Matthew Whittle forthcoming: Global Literatures and the Environment: Twenty-First Century Perspectives (Routledge, 2024). Jade is currently Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded research project, South African Modernism 1880-2020 and is a BBC New Generation Thinker who presents programmes on BBC Radio 3.  


Last modified: 2021-07-05