WID Welcomes Grace A. Musila as Distinguished Lecturer

Grace Musila delivers WID Distinguished Lecture
November 17, 2016

The Writing Program welcomed Grace A. Musila to present the WID Distinguished Lecture on Nov. 17th. 

Dr. Musila drew on and updated her recent book, A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder (Boydell & Brewer, 2015), to interrogate the social meanings of the archive across a range of disciplines. 

Julie Ann Ward was a British tourist and wildlife photographer who went missing in Kenya's Maasai Mara Game Reserve in 1988 and was eventually found to have been murdered. Her death and the protracted search for her killers, still at large, were hotly contested in the media. Many theories emerged as to how and why she died, generating three trials, several "true crime" books, and much speculation and rumour.

At the core of Grace Musila's study are the following questions: why would this young woman's death be the subject of such strong contestations of ideas and multiple truths? And what does this reveal about cultural productions of truth and knowledge in Kenya and Britain, particularly in the light of the responses to her disappearance of the Kenyan police, the British Foreign Office, and the British High Commission in Nairobi. Building on existing scholarship on African history, narrative, gender and postcolonial studies, the author reveals how the Julie Ward murder and its attendant discourses offer insights into the journeys of ideas, and how these traverse the porous boundaries of the relationship between Kenya and Britain, and, by extension, Africa and the Global North.

Musila is a Senior Lecturer in the English Department at Stellenbosch University and a founding convenor of the Locations and Locutions Lecture Series of the Graduate School of the Faculty. She holds a PhD in African Literature from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Her research interests include Gender Studies, Eastern and Southern African literatures, African popular culture, African intellectual archives and postcolonial whiteness in Africa. She has published journal articles and book chapters in these areas. She has also co-edited Rethinking Eastern African Intellectual Landscapes (Africa World Press, 2012). She is currently a Fellow in residence at the National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC, where she is investigating "Critical Illegibility, Blackness and Scoring Dangerous Freedoms."