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Recent Publication Information for Jennifer Wenzel


Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond


Jennifer Wenzel
Faculty Info


In 1856 and 1857, in response to a prophet’s command, the Xhosa people of southern Africa killed their cattle and ceased planting crops; the resulting famine cost tens of thousands of lives. Much like other millenarian, anticolonial movements—such as the Ghost Dance in North America and the Birsa Munda uprising in India—these actions were meant to transform the world and liberate the Xhosa from oppression. Despite the movement’s momentous failure to achieve that goal, the event has continued to exert a powerful pull on the South African imagination ever since. It is these afterlives of the prophecy that Jennifer Wenzel explores in Bulletproof.

Wenzel examines literary and historical texts to show how writers have manipulated images and ideas associated with the cattle killing—harvest, sacrifice, rebirth, devastation—to speak to their contemporary predicaments. Widening her lens, Wenzel also looks at how past failure can both inspire and constrain movements for justice in the present, and her brilliant insights into the cultural implications of prophecy will fascinate readers across a wide variety of disciplines.

All recent publications by Jennifer Wenzel

  • Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond

All publications by Jennifer Wenzel


Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond. University of Chicago Press and University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 2009.

Articles (selected):

"Consumption for the Common Good? Commodity Biography Film in an Era of Postconsumerism." Public Culture 23.3 (Fall 2011).

“Meat Country (Please Do Not Feed Baboons and Wild Animals).” Afterword to special issue on ecocriticism. Safundi
11.1 and 2 (January 2010): 203-32.

“The Problem of Metaphor: Tropic Logic in Cattle Killing Prophecies and their Afterlives.” African Studies 67.2 (August 2008): 143-58.

Contributor, "Editor's Column: The End of Postcolonial Theory? A Roundtable with Sunil Agnani, Fernando Coronil, Gaurav Desai, Mamadou Diouf, Simon Gikandi, Susie Tharu, and Jennifer Wenzel." PMLA 122.3 (May 2007): 1-32.

"Petro-Magic-Realism: Toward a Political Ecology of Nigerian Literature." Postcolonial Studies 9.4 (December 2006).

"Remembering the Past's Future: Anti-Imperialist Nostalgia and Some Versions of the Third World." Cultural Critique 62.1 (Winter 2006).

"Voices of Textual and Spectral Ancestors: Reading Tiyo Soga alongside H.I.E. Dhlomo’s The Girl Who Killed to Save." Research in African Literatures 36.1 (Winter 2005).

"Intertextual Africa: Chinua Achebe on the Congo, Patrice Lumumba on the Niger," in African Writers and their Readers: Essays in African Literature in Honor of Bernth Lindfors (Africa World Press, 2002).

Co-author with Joseph Slaughter. "Letters of the Law: Women, Human Rights, and Epistolary Literature,"  Women, Gender, and Human Rights: A Global Perspective (Rutgers UP, 2001).

"Grim Fairy Tales: Taking a Risk, Reading Imaginary Maps," in Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women's Texts (Garland, 2000). Reprinted in Mahasweta Devi: An Anthology of Recent Criticism (Delhi: Pencraft 2008).

"The Pastoral Promise and the Political Imperative: The Plaasroman Tradition in an Era of Land Reform," Modern Fiction Studies 46.1 (Spring 2000).

"Epic Struggles over India's Forests in Mahasweta Devi's Short Fiction," Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 18 (1998).

"Keys to the Labyrinth: Writing, Torture, and Coetzee's Barbarian Girl," Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 15.1 (Spring 1996).

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