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Dr Ranka Primorac PhD


Dr Ranka Primorac's photo

Dr Ranka Primorac is a Lecturer in English at the University of Southampton.

"What does the continent known as Africa possess that the rest—or a greater part—of the globe does not have already in superabundance?"
Wole Soyinka, Of Africa

Some of the world’s most exciting contemporary writing comes from Africa. I love discussing African literatures and cultures with our students, in conjunction with topics related to cultural difference and social justice. African texts and contexts help us to ask questions about the world-making power of literary forms, and about how literature enables new understandings of modernity.

In my 20s, I travelled to Africa from my country of birth in peripheral Europe,  and spent the best part of a decade working and studying in Harare, Zimbabwe. This act of self-displacement (and those that followed) informs my academic practice to this day: I teach and research issues to do with global economic, social and cultural unevenness and movement.

I am interested in how the novel--the most globalised of literary genres--transmits and refracts critical engagements with modernity; in how various circuits of this genre’s circulation have attracted  different forms of economic, social and cultural capital; and in how critical perceptions of the novel’s aesthetic value have become ethically inflected.

At the centre of my research interest is the African novel in English. My first monograph, The Place of Tears: The Novel and Politics in Modern Zimbabwe (2006) charts the formal decolonisation of Zimbabwe via the novel’s engagement with the social production of space-time. I am currently at work on a second, provisionally titled The Queues of Limitless Hope, to do with representations of modern subjectivity in times of social crisis in Southern Africa.

I have published articles and chapters on the social functioning of African texts and forms, literature and the production of space-time, the novel form and new cosmopolitanisms, African city texts and contexts, and the interface between peripheral texts and African canon-formation. My current monograph in progress is informed by recent theories of world-literature. It asks questions about how novels from Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa register the unevenness of the geo-cultural scales through which genres of ‘the African novel’ may be normalized.

After working as a teacher in Zimbabwe, completing my PhD in the UK, and working as a non-established academic for a number of years, I was permanently appointed as a Lecturer at Southampton in 2010.


Appointments held

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Research interests

African literatures and cultures, canonicity and canon-making, decolonisation, genre, Kenya, literary & social forms, culture & modernity, new cosmopolitanisms, the novel, the social production of space, the social production of time, South Africa, world-literary systems, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

PhD supervision

Co-supervision with Stephen Morton: Jared Mustafa Holzapfel, Arabic Queer Fictions

Research projects

Current, AHRC Networking Grant, The Textual Worlds of South-East Africa:
The project’s main objective is to begin a sustained scholarly conversation about bridging the methodological divide between the study of African 'literary' and 'popular' narrative texts and forms.

March 2012 – March 2020, co-investigator (with Stephen Chan), British Academy/Leverhulme, Thundering Smoke: A Socio-Political History of Zambia in Literature

Research project(s)

The Textual Worlds of South-Eastern Africa

In the last ten years, African literature in English has taken the international literary scene by storm.

I sit on the Editorial Board of The Journal of Commonwealth Literature and the Advisory Board of Journal of Southern African Studies. Together with Stephanie Newell, I co-edit Boydell and Brewer’s African Articulations monograph series.

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Book Chapters


UG module convenor:

  • ENGL 2101 African Worlds
  • ENGL 2107 Decolonising Modernity
  • ENGL 3069 Love & Death in Africa’s Cities

I am currently on research leave.

Dr Ranka Primorac
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom

Room Number NNN: 65/1039

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