Conversation with Artists: Relational Transdisciplinarity and Artistic/Academic Knowledge Production

Virtual conversation between arts and academia during the Annual Conference of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence “Africa*n Relations: Modalities Reflected” in July 2021


Conveners: Ute Fendler, Valerie V. V. Gruber and Gilbert Shang Ndi


Whereas the multiple entanglements between Africa and its Latin American diasporas can hardly be squeezed into the boundaries established by the academic field, transdisciplinary cooperation between academics and artists offers a fruitful way out of disciplinary bottlenecks. In this virtual roundtable, which took place on July 16th, 2021 in the framework of the Annual Conference of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bayreuth, we shared insights into modalities of relating and translating that enable and restrain transdisciplinary knowledge production. As a first result of the Participatory Action Research programme carried out at the intersection of the Cluster projects “Moral Geographies of Re-Existence” and “Black Atlantic Revisited”, we launched the video performance El Encuentro de las Tierras – The Confluence of Roots created by the artists Diego Araúja (Brazil), Matchume Zango (Mozambique) and Lobadys Pérez (Colombia). Taking a cue from the transdisciplinary video published on the DjumbaiALA YouTube channel, we jointly reflected on processes, products and pitfalls of border-crossing knowledge creation. In this vein, we stimulated debates on innovative modes of doing research in ways that enhance in-depth and multi-perspectival analyses. Our contribution adds to discussions on knowledge transfer and dissemination with a view to widening the audience and raising the social impact of social sciences, humanities and the arts. Ultimately, multiple relations between Africa and its diasporas require multiple modes of knowledge production, reflection and diffusion in order to overcome historical and disciplinary strictures.




Artistic directors of the video

Diego Araúja is a transdisciplinary artist with a Bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts from the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), graduating summa cum laude. As a playwright, he has written nine plays, including Sobre os Palhaços na Varanda (“About Clowns on the Balcony”, FAPEX Theatre Award – 2010, ETUFBA) and Holocausto Brasileiro – Prontuário da Razão Degenerada (“Brazilian Holocaust – Record of Degenerate Reason”, Braskem Theatre of Bahia Award – 2020). He currently researches and develops works linked to black contemporary art, hybrid aesthetic mediums, afro-diasporic performances and decoloniality with the goal of integrating artistic mediums within a single performative experience. Some of his research includes Estética Para Um Não-Tempo (“Aesthetics for a Non-time”), a study on afro-diasporic performativity and memory as a consciousness of the body. With Laís Machado, he founded the ÀRÀKÁ Platform, a transdisciplinary space for research, creation, networking and exchange among black artists.

Matchume Zango is a Mozambican composer, performing artist, Timbila player, percussionist, teacher and dance expert. He has dedicated himself to traditional Chopi music and dance since the age of six. His parents and grandparents are originally from Zavala, Inhambane Province (Mozambique), which is the centre of Timbila, a marimba-style instrument that is revered as part of Mozambique’s national heritage. Inspired by this long and passionate tradition of music and percussion, Matchume began to play, study music

and produce traditional instruments such as timbila, mbira, xitende and djembe drums. He earned his Bachelor degree in Music Performance from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. Over the past twenty years, Matchume has toured the world as a performing musician and composer of traditional, experimental and fusion music (eclectic mix of electronic and traditional) for different art expressions (theatre, cinema and dance).

Lobadys Pérez is a professional dancer, choreographer, and adviser to the Colombian Ministry of Culture. He is director of Compañía Periferia and a member of the Hip Hop movement in Cartagena, Colombia. He holds a MA in Culture and Development from the Technological University of Bolívar and studied Contemporary Dance at Colegio del Cuerpo (“The School of the Body”) as a former member of the International Company directed by the renowned choreographers Álvaro Restrepo and Marie France Deliuvin. As dancer and choreographer, he has participated in international festivals in numerous countries including Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Panama, Jamaica, Colombia, Japan and Vietnam. He has collaborated with institutions such as the Higher Institute of Fine Arts, Cartagena, Jorge Tadeo Lozano University, Technological University of Bolívar and Fundación Pies Descalzos founded by international singer Shakira.


Mozambican singer Bela Zango in the video “El Encuentro de las Tierras”. Source:


Video “El Encuentro de las Tierras” – “The Confluence of Roots” by Diego Araúja, Matchume Zango and Lobadys Pérez with English subtitles:

Vídeo “El Encuentro de las Tierras” de Diego Araúja, Matchume Zango y Lobadys Pérez con subtítulos en español: