Oscar Hemer: Excerpts from the World Waltz. Contamination as research method and literary genre

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Oscar Hemer, Professor of Journalistic and Literary Creation, K3. The title of the talk is:

Excerpts from the World Waltz. Contamination as research method and literary genre.

It will take place on Wednesday, November 21 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara

Below you will find an abstract for the talk. Oscar has also produced two texts that you can receive before the seminar by mailing him: Oscar.Hemer@mau.se.


To what extent do the academic and literary practices truly converge? Is it even desirable that they fuse into new genres? These are questions that I have struggled with the last decade in my double capacity as literary writer and academic researcher.  I am currently exploring a cross-genre that I at first, for lack of a better term, called ethnographic fiction (Hemer 2015; 2017). I have however lately decided to opt for the term contamination, based on the alleged tradition outlined by Kwame Anthony Appiah (2006), going from Roman playwright Publius Terentius Afer, whose fusions of comedy and tragedy were called ‘contaminations’, to Salman Rushdie, the supposedly foremost contemporary successor. I take Appiah’s barely elaborated idea as an open and intriguing suggestion for a trans-genre in the borderland of art and academia, in which I am happy to inscribe my own work.

Contamination as a genre would be a congenial form for exploration of contamination as a subject – the purity/impurity discourse (Douglas 1966); creolisation (Glissant 1990; 1997; Hannerz 1986; 1996; Gutiérrez Rodríguez 2015; Erasmus 2017) – with South Africa as my principal case at present.

 At the seminar I intend to give a background to the ‘World Waltz’ project and present some of the challenges of my work in progress, the Cape Calypso.


Appiah, K. A. (2006). Cosmopolitanism : Ethics in a world of strangers. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co

Douglas, M. (1966). Purity and danger: an analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. London: Routledge & K Paul

Erasmus, Z. (2017). Race Otherwise : Forging a new humanism for South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits University Press

Glissant, É. (1990). Poétique de la Relation. Poétique III. Paris: Éditions du Seuil

Glissant, É. (1997). Traité du Tout-Monde. Poétique IV. Paris: Éditions du Seuil

Gutiérrez Rodríguez, E. (2015). “Archipelago Europe: On creolizing conviviality”, in

Gutiérrez Rodríguez, E., and S. A. Tate (eds.). Creolizing Europe: Legacies and Transformations. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press

Hannerz, U. (2010 [1986]). “The World in Creolization”, in Cohen. R. and P. Toninato (eds.). The Creolization Reader. London: Routledge

Hannerz, U. (1996). Transnational connections: culture, people, places. London: Routledge

Hemer, O. (2012). ”Hillbrow Blues”, in Chapman, M. (ed.). Africa Inside Out : Stories, tales and testimonies. Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Nartal Press

Hemer, O. (2015). ”Bengaluru Boogie : Outlines for an ethnographic fiction”, in Hansen, A. H., Hemer, O. & T. Tufte (eds.)(2015). Memory on Trial : Media, citizenship and social justice. Zürich: Lit Verlag

Hemer, o. (2017). ”Till kontaminationens lov / Bengaluru Boogie”. Kulturella perspektiv 2/2017

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