Dr. Deborah Nyangulu

© Deborah Nyangulu

Deborah Nyangulu is now affiliated with the Research Training Group Contradiction Studies: Constellations, Heuristics and Concepts of the Contradictory at the University of Bremen. She can be contacted via email: nyangulu@uni-bremen.de or visit her new homepage: https://contradictionstudies.uni-bremen.de/en/faculty-member/dr-deborah-nyangulu-en/

Between 2015 - 2022 Deborah was affiliated with the Chair of English, Postcolonial and Media Studies at WWU Münster and worked in various capacities as a PhD candidate, Lecturer, Postdoctoral Researcher and Study Advisor for the Master of Arts program National and Transnational Studies. Deborah read for both their DPhil in English Philology and an MA in National and Transnational Studies at the University of Muenster and their BA in Humanities (majoring in Literatures in English with a minor in Classics) from the University of Malawi. Deborah's interdisciplinary PhD thesis, Big Man Aesthetics: Masculinity, Power, and Contemporary African Literature examines allegorical significations of the trope of the Big Man and situates the trope in its transnational, transgender, transcultural, and transcontinental manifestations with the study broadening the scope of both comparative masculinity studies and cultural studies. Deborah has co-edited the interdisciplinary volume Locating African European Studies (Routledge) and is currently guest editing a special issue dedicated to Namwali Serpell's novel The Old Drift which will appear in the journal Research in African Literatures (RAL). They have published an essay engaging with decolonization and the discursive monument 'Marxism' in the volume From Marx to Global Marxism: Eurocentrism, Resistance, Postcolonial Criticism and other work has appeared in RAL. Deborah practices engaged pedagogy and has led postgraduate colloquia, taught a range of postgraduate and undergraduate courses, including supervising MA and BA theses located in various fields such as Anglophone African literature, critical theory, feminist studies, cultural studies, masculinity studies, black studies, nationalism and transnationalism, social movements studies and new media studies. 

  • Research Areas

    • Literary and Cultural Studies
    • Contemporary African Literature & African Studies
    • Masculinities and Power
    • Social Media and Social Movements
    • Critical Theory
    • Theories and history of nation, nationalism, & transnationalism
    • Deconstruction
  • Doctoral Thesis

    Big Man Aesthetics: Masculinity, Power, and Contemporary African Literature


    Deborah Nyangulu successfully defended their PhD thesis at WWU Münster in July 2019. Deborah's dissertation examines allegorical significations of the trope of the Big Man and draws on an extensive corpus. They argues that while the notion of the Big Man performs a wide range of textual, literary, social, discursive, idiomatic, and political functions; a tropological analysis shows the Big Man as a referentially indirect mode of revealing truth about the nation in which uncertainties over national identity, manhood, leadership, gendered power relations and class hierarchies become visible. Framing their readings within the context of nascent nationalism in the post-colony and resurgent nationalism in the global north, the study is guided by the premise that Big Men are found everywhere but fragmented by local contingencies. Thus, the study champions a comparative study of Big Men which takes seriously (de-)constructions of manhood and avoids pitfalls of particular ethnographic studies that foreground exoticism and otherness. This transdisciplinary thesis therefore broadens the scope of comparative masculinity studies and situates the trope of the Big Man in its transnational, transgender, transcultural, and transcontinental manifestations. Its rich dialogue between popular and academic discourses as well as contemporary African Literature teases out the intersections of constructions of manhood, power relations and cultural representations.

  • Publications

    • Nyangulu, Deborah (Eds.): 2022. Namwali Serpell's The Old Drift: Disruption. Research in African Literatures: Indiana University Press. [online first]
    • Espinoza Garrido, Felipe, Caroline Koegler, Deborah Nyangulu, and Mark Stein (Eds.): 2020. Locating African European Studies: Interventions, Intersections, Conversations. London and New York: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780429491092.
    • Espinoza Garrido, Felipe, Caroline Koegler, Deborah Nyangulu, and Mark U. Stein. 2020. ‘African European studies as a critique of contingent belonging.’ In Locating African European Studies: Interventions, Intersections, Conversations, edited by Felipe Espinoza Garrido, Caroline Koegler, Deborah Nyangulu, and Mark U. Stein, 1–28. London & New York: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780429491092-1.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah. 2020. ‘What's In a Name? Renewing Socialism Via Decolonization.’ In From Marx to Global Marxism: Eurocentrism, Resistance, Postcolonial Criticism, edited by Knopf, Kerstin and Quintern, Detlev, 219–232. Trier: Trier Wissenschaftlicher Verlag.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah. ‘Hashtag Activism and the Reconfiguration of Knowledge Production.’ contributed to the Positioning the Humanities in the 2020s, Hanover, 2019. [accepted / in press (not yet published)]
    • Nyangulu, Deborah. 2019. ‘Foreword: More Than Patriarchy.’ In Anthology 2019: Stories of the Struggle for Education and Equality in Malawi, edited by Rogers, Elizabeth, 16–18. Voice Flame.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah. 2018. Conference Report: "Nationalism and the Postcolonial" ACOLIT – Newsletter der Gesellschaft für Anglophone Postkoloniale Studien, No. 75. Frankfurt/Main, 2018.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah. 2018. ‘Big Men and Performances of Sovereignty in Contemporary African Novels.’ Research in African Literatures 49, No. 3: 101–115. doi: 10.2979/reseafrilite.49.3.07.
  • Talks

    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2021): ‘Rethinking Knowledge in Transnational Terms.’ Theorizing African Diasporas Anew Symposium (Prof. Dr. Gigi Adair), Bielefeld Zif Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Bielefeld University, 12/03/2021.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2020): ‘Hashtag Movements and Decolonial Pedagogy’. Public lecture (Arbeitskreis Postkolonialismus and AStA Uni Muenster), University of Muenster, 10/06/2020.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2019): ‘Hashtag Activism and the Reconfiguration of Knowledge Production’. Positioning the Humanities in the 2020s (German U15 and Volkswagen Stiftung), Volkswagen Stiftung Herrenhausen, Hanover, Germany, 11/09/2019.
    • Deborah Nyangulu (2019): ‘The Self-help Genre and Public Intellectuals in the Digital Age’. Postcolonial Intellectuals and Their European Publics (Utrecht University), Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands, 06/02/2019.
    • Chatterjee, Sukla; Knopf, Kerstin; Nyangulu, Deborah; Quintern, Detlev (2018): ‘Versklavung für Baumwolle (Critical Reading & Public Discussion)’. Eine Uni- Ein Buch - Eine Stadt: Global Cotton (University of Bremen), University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany, 13/11/2018.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2018): ‘Performing Bigmanity: Masculinities in Meja Mwangi's Rafiki Man Guitar’. ASA UK 2018 Conference (School of History and Cultures, University of Birmingham), University of Birmingham, UK, 12/09/2018.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2018): ‘Postcolonial Resurrections: Emerging Debates in the 21st Century Present’. Decolonize: Lange Nacht der Postkolonialen Perspektiven (Ifpol - Institut für Politikwissenschaft), Institut für Politikwissenschaft WWU Münster, 21/06/2018.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2018): ‘Bigmanism and the Aesthetics of Power’. GAPS International Conference: Nationalism and the Postcolonial (Johannes Gutenberg Mainz University and GAPS), Johannes Gutenberg Mainz, Germany, 10/05/2018.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2018): ‘Marxism and Utopian Visions in Contemporary African Literature’. Karl Marx, Marxism and the Global South (City of Applied Sciences and "INPUTS" of the University of Bremen), University of Bremen, 05/05/2018.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2018): ‘Contemporary African Literary Studies Today’. Lecture Series: African Scholars (International Office WWU Münster and Centre for African Culture NRW e.V), Humboldt Haus WWU Münster, 23/02/2018.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2017): ‘Necropolitan Spaces in Meja Mwangi's The Big Chiefs.’ African Literature Association (Yale University and ALA), Yale University, New Haven, USA, 15/06/2017.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2016): ‘Hero(ines)/Villains in Time of War: Affirming and Subverting Big Man Power in Dongala's Johnny Mad Dog.’ African Literature Association (ALA) 2016 (Emory University and ALA), Emory University and Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, USA, 07/04/2016.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2015): ‘Mapping a Big Man Aesthetics in Contemporary African Literature’. European Conference on African Studies (ECAS-6) (IMAF (Institut des mondes africains) and LAM (Les Afriques dans le monde).), Sorbonne, Paris, France, 09/07/2015.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2015): ‘The Postcolonial as False Totality’. GAPS: Ideology in Postcolonial Texts and Contexts (English Department, University of Muenster), University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany, 14/05/2015.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2014): ‘"What is Africa?"’. Young Scholars' Meeting FUTURE AFRICA - Conference of the African Studies Association in Germany (VAD) (VAD and University of Bayreuth), University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany, 11/06/2014.
    • Nyangulu, Deborah (2014): ‘Estranging a Strange Tyranny: Legson Kayira's The Detainee’. Endnotes 2014 - Strangely Familiar (University of British Columbia), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 17/05/2014.