Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola is Brittle Paper Academic of the Year her contributions to African literary culture.
Prof. Gqola is a South African academic, among many other brilliant titles such as feminist, activist, and writer. Originally from the Eastern Cape, Gqola received her Honors and MA degrees from the University of Cape Town, followed by another MA from the University of Warwick before getting her DPhil from Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich. She became a professor in Literary, Media and Gender Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand before becoming Dean of Research at the University of Fort Hare. Currently, she is a research professor in the Centre of Women and Gender Studies department at Nelson Mandela University. And most recently, she has been named the James Currey Lifetime Achievement Awardee for 2023.
Gqola’s body of work is an expansive collection of books, journal articles, and essays that present insightful and unflinching examination of culture, politics, and history. Last year, she edited a collection of Miriam Tlali’s work titled Writing Freedom. The collection is a brilliant homage to one of the founding figures of modern African writing as we know it. Gqola’s most recent book focuses on exposing the insidious ways in which patriarchal systems subject women to violence and other forms of indignities. Female Fear Factory: Gender and Patriarchy under Racial Capitalism was published last year by Cassava Republic press. This incredibly powerful book tackles the challenges women face as they navigate in a patriarchal culture rooted in violence. Her writing is truthful in its exposure of the dire experience women face. Gqola has talked about how she had pushing through all of the triggering statistics, experiences, and stories during her research on the book. Her perseverance in speaking out and advocating for dismantling patriarchal and its ideological hold on culture and politics is a testament to her influence in African feminist scholarship.
Beyond her work as an academic, Gqola also uses social media to bring visibility to African literary culture and feminist issues. This something we celebrate and encourage in academics. They have so much knowledge to share. It is important that they meet the people where they are. You can find Gqola on Instagram (@feminist_rogue) where she shares photographs of her life as an author and academic. She shares reflections on timely social issues, spotlights other feminist voices, and generally brings visibility to the vibrant culture of readers and community organizers doing important work.
She is an incredible public intellectual, role model, mentor, and social ally. We celebrate her contribution to the culture.