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Inaugural lecture Prof. Tendai Mangena: "Disruptive Single Women"

Thursday 2 November 2023, 16:30-18:30
Michael Sadler Building LG10

You are warmly invited to attend the inaugural lecture of Professor Tendai Mangena, titled

Disruptive Single Women: Gender and Sexuality among the Shona of Zimbabwe.

Since 2023, Professor Mangena holds a four-year British Academy Global Professorship in African Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. At Leeds, she is associated with the Leeds University Centre for African Studies and based in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures.

The title of the inaugural lecture is “Disruptive Single Women: Gender and Sexuality among the Shona of Zimbabwe”. The lecture will explore Prof. Mangena's contribution to African gender studies by focusing on the category of single women, specifically in her own Shona culture.

Among the Shona people of Zimbabwe, single women (especially those over 40), who have never been married and do not have children, are disruptive of numerous heteropatriarchal norms and conceptions of gender, marriage, family, and sexuality. By tracing the trajectory of her own academic and personal journey, Professor Mangena will illustrate how single women challenge Shona patriarchal perspectives that assert a woman's success is solely defined within a heterosexual marriage—focused on wifehood and motherhood, with little room for anything else.

The lecture serves as a powerful response to the stigmatization faced by unmarried women within Shona and broader African cultures, often treated as failures and marginalized individuals. The lecture will demonstrate the diverse paths that women can take, pushing back against the prevailing notion that their success can only be found within the confines of a traditional marriage.

About Professor Mangena

Tendai Mangena received her PhD in African literature from Leiden University in 2015. Since then, she has held different research fellowships. From 2016 to 2018, she was an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Postcolonial Literary and Cultural studies at Bremen University (Germany). From July to August 2019, she was a Humboldt Visiting Fellow in the same department. In 2020, she was a Fulbright Research Scholar in the Department of Comparative Literature and Languages at the University of California (Riverside), USA. In 2022, she was awarded a prestigious British Academy Global Professorship, which saw her coming to the University of Leeds in February 2023. Prior to that, she was Associate Professor of Literary Studies at Great Zimbabwe University.

She has widely published in the fields of African literature, culture and society. She is the author of Contested Criminalities in Zimbabwean Fiction (Routledge, 2019), and recently co-edited two book volumes, titled The Zimbabwean Crisis after Mugabe: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (Routledge 2021) and Cultures of Change in Contemporary Zimbabwe: Socio-Political Transition from Mugabe to Mnangagwa (Routledge 2022).