ISOLA is an international, multicultural, multilingual scholarly organization, dedicated to the study, promotion, conservation and diffusion of the rich oral traditions of Global Africa, comprising the continent and its Diasporas all over the world.


The Society began in 1991 during a conference held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London focusing on African oral arts. It was later formally established during its Cape Town conference in 1998. Since its inception, ISOLA has grown tremendously, providing an institutional home for the scores of scholars who meet at its biennial conferences in venues in Africa, Europe and, more recently, the Caribbean.

The Society draws its international membership from experts and students involved in the exploration of the rich and vibrant oral traditions of Africa and of the African Diaspora. Its members engage in a wide spectrum of research with respect to African oral traditions, past and contemporary, in areas such as performance, the literary arts, linguistics, history and social dynamics, as well as comparative theoretical or metatheoretical studies. Members are encouraged to report on their restorative, archival, and field research while establishing multi-disciplinary networks. To this end, the Society’s primary activity is its biennial scholarly conference, culminating in published proceedings.

The international character of ISOLA is demonstrated by the diversity of its membership and the distribution of the sites of our conferences. The Society actively pursues the participation of scholars and graduate students from the African continent, the African Diaspora and from African Studies specialists across the world. At present, our main languages of discussion and communication are English and French.

However, in the short term, our aim is to actively solicit and encourage the membership of scholars from the Portuguese-speaking and Spanish-speaking world and from the African Diaspora of the Americas.

ISOLA is a member of the FILLM
(Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures).

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