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Dr Ruth Bush



My research bridges African and African diasporic print cultures in French and in English, book history and cultural studies. I have an abiding interest how archival methods and close textual analysis can be combined to explore the structural inequalities and institutions that shape cultural production, and the circulation of knowledge more broadly between the global South and global North. This has led to research on topics such as post-war publishing history, African women’s magazines, Pan-African festivals, and writing by authors including Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Malick Fall, and Amos Tutuola. My recent publications include a monograph, Publishing Africa in French: Literary institutions and decolonization 1945 – 1967 (Liverpool University Press, 2016), a popular history of the UK’s first radical black bookshop, New Beacon Books (reprinted in paperback in 2016 alongside poetry by Jay Bernard), and a special issue of Wasafiri magazine on ‘African Print Activism in the 21st Century’.


I am currently developing a second monograph project on the role of the university in the production of an African literary commons, and the representation of this contested institution across a body of cultural texts, from novels to contemporary spoken word poetry. In parallel, I have worked since 2016 on two large-scale, collaborative projects with external partners in Senegal and Uganda. The first of these projects, funded by an AHRC Global Challenges grant, led to the digitisation of one of the earliest francophone African women’s magazines, Awa: la revue de la femme noire and an exhibition which launched in Dakar in November 2017. For more information see the project website here. The second project, on African Arts Management and Literary Activism, has involved a series of annual workshops at Writivism Festival and a mentorship initiative co-convened with Madhu Krishnan (Bristol), Kate Wallis (Exeter) and Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire (Writivism). This work is funded through the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.


My research has appeared in journals including Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Francosphères, Journal of Postcolonial Writing and Cahiers d’Etudes africaines. I regularly peer-review for journals such as Wasafiri, African Diaspora, Australian Journal of French Studies and the International Journal of Francophone Studies. I am a member of the steering committee for the new Centre for Black Humanities and I sit on the board of Afrika Eye Festival, the largest African film festival in the South West.


I would be delighted to hear from prospective postgraduate students interested in pursuing research in any of the areas mentioned above.




I am on research leave in 2017/18. I have taught literature (medieval to 21st century), cultural studies, and French language at undergraduate and postgrad uate levels. I convene units on Francophone African Literature (Y2), Journeys Through Poetry (Y2), Narratives of Migration (Y4), and contribute to postgraduate units on Global Cultures of the Book and Cultural Encounters. In 2016/17 I was Programme Director on the Foundation in Arts and Humanities, a 1-year course designed for students without conventional academic qualifications and which provides access to undergraduate degrees. I am committed to widening participation initiatives in Bristol.

Research keywords

  • Francophone African literature
  • Material cultures of the book
  • Postcolonial studies