Call for Submissions: TWM Issue 2.

The Black African Body


“There are thinkings of the systematicity of the body, there are value codings of the body. The body as such cannot be thought.” – Gayatri Spivak

Our bodies are central to our existence. They signify our presence or absence in/from material and ideological spaces, and are integral to our corporeal experiences. Our lived experiences throughout life are as varied as life itself, unconfined to or within a singular context. We eat, dance, use our bodies for labour, for art, for pleasure, for reproduction, to communicate and to embody our different material histories. Our bodies bleed, hurt, age, menstruate, break, limit us, propel us in varying ways, and deprive us of or afford us certain liberties.

Women’s bodies specifically are often discussed in feminist and other discourses particularly in relation to sexuality and reproduction. Discussions on the body focusing on sexuality and reproductive health illustrate that those are the points of contention and are issues with greater vulnerability in body matters. This focus illustrates the areas in which power and agency struggles are mostly manifested and visible. Feminist Africa’s “Sexual Cultures” issue in 2005, recognized that African sexuality is addressed by proxy in the literature available on the global market. In this recognition, Feminist Africa took on the opportunity to “deepen and further inform the ongoing debates and struggles around various aspects of sexuality [in Africa].”  Buwa!’s issue, “Sex and Health” shared African stories and experiences in sex and health to challenge Africans to “loosen the lid that has been kept tightly shut for decades to prevent sex and sexuality form being openly discussed…” Pop’Africana’s current call for contributions to their “Sex & The Female Body” seeks to “create a new anthropology of exploration and understanding of the African female body with a focus on erotica, beauty and traditions.” These issues all constitute an important foundation for thinking about the systematicities and value codings of the black African body.

In the past few years, there has been more effort to include discussion and exploration of black African bodies outside the context of sex, sexuality and health. For instance, platforms such as ‘Inkanyiso’ which centers African LGBTI persons in visual media, and Hola Africa which is a ‘Pan-Africanist queer womanist collective that deals with African female sexuality…’ have created space for LGBTI in discussing the black African body. Africanah gives an overview of body politics in African women’s art, there is more discussion of black African bodies in film, (more) literature and poetry, sports, and labour.  In Buala’s second call for their images and geographies issue, they intended to “reinforce the need to design bodies as sites of essential and full performance and not as mere surfaces of discursive enrollment.” These varying discussions and many others unmentioned here are the kinds to which we are interested in contributing.

The Wide Margin is pleased yet again, to announce a call for essays and articles for its second issue: “The Black African Body”.  This issue follows the line of thought as in ‘Feminist Theory and the Body’ (edited by Janet Price and Margrit Shildrick); the body matters. This issue therefore invites contributions that explore different subjects on the black African body. We want to contribute to discussions about the black African body by subverting and challenging commonly held beliefs and opinions on the subject and to raise new questions. In doing so, we ask ‘what does it mean to have a black African body?’ We are focusing on but not restricting the subject to the female body, however the framework for all submissions must be feminist. In this exploration, we welcome submissions with well thought out arguments that are neither unnecessarily jargon laden nor dumbed down. Some of the topics we are looking for include (but are not limited to):

  • The black African body and identity
  • Body policing and body shaming
  • Body image
  • Violence against black African bodies
  • Sex, health (including menstruation)
  • The black African body and/in art
  • Black African bodies and labour
  • The black African body and/in pop culture
  • Body binaries and limitations thereof
  • Celebrating black African bodies


  • We’re accepting pitches for essays, articles, and visual material to be sent to by the 10th of October 2015. Pitches should be accompanied by the name of the author and the title of the pitch in the email. (We currently DO NOT publish fiction.)
  • We will contact authors and contributors to make full submissions upon reviewing the pitches. Full submissions should then be sent to by the 6th of November 2015.
  • Please read issue no. 1 of The Wide Margin to familiarize with the kind of writing we are interested in.
  • Direct all inquiries to copying  

About The Wide Margin

The Wide Margin is a new digital collection of essays, articles and illustrations which focus on discussion and critical thought about social, economic, political and cultural issues through a feminist lens. The Wide Margin intends to advance contemporary critical thought in Kenya, East Africa and Africa in an accessible way that is open, inclusive, imaginative and daring.