Neelika Jayawardane

Associate Professor


307 Marano Campus Center

Office hours

On research leave for the spring semester

Neelika Jayawardane

M. Neelika Jayawardane is Associate Professor of English at the State University of New York-Oswego, and a Research Associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD), University of Johannesburg (South Africa). She is a recipient of the 2018 Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for a book project on Afrapix, a South African photographers’ agency that operated during the last decade of apartheid. She recently received funding for a creative writing project from The Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant in December 2020, and a critical writing residency at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Summer 2021. 

Jayawardane was born in Sri Lanka, raised in Zambia, and completed her university education in the US, where she currently works. Her writing and research is centred on South Africa, and her scholarly publications focus on the nexus between written texts, visual art, photography, and the transnational/transhistorical implications of colonialism, ongoing forms of discrimination, displacement, and migration on individuals and communities. Along with academic publications, and catalogue essays for exhibitions and artists’ books, her critical writing is featured in Aperture, Al Jazeera EnglishTransitionfrieze, and other venues. 



Peer-Reviewed Articles (Recent):


Essays, Reviews, Interviews (Recent):

  • “Keguro Macharia: on grinding, grating, and creating friction against Kenyatta’s figurations of gender, sexuality, and ethnicity.” Journal of African Cultural Studies. Published online: 17 Jun 2021. (Scheduled to be in print in 2021.)


Articles (Journalism):


  • March 2018: “Revealing Self-Portraits: Reactions and Resistance to Zanele Muholi’s ‘Visual Activism’ in South Africa”. PANEL: “Portraits and Power: The Aesthetics of Resistance”. Black Portraitures ConferenceHarvard University. March 23-24.
  • August 2017Art Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) Triennial. “Photography as Travel Memoir: Itinerancy, Movement, and Subjectivity Formation in Contemporary African Photography.” Panel: “Africa’s Photographic Futures.” The University of Ghana, Legon (Accra). 


Invited Lecturer, Speaker, Panelist

  • Mentor/Workshop Leader: Art Writing Work: New Engagements for Artists in East Africa. A collaborative project and a part of the ‘Networking Artists in East Africa’ programme. Partners include Nairobi Contemporary, British Council in East Africa, 32 Degrees East, Ugandan Arts Trust, Makerere University, and British Council. Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council and Global Challenges Research Fund (UK). 25th-April—1stMay; Nairobi, Kenya; Kampala, Uganda.
  • Panel discussion organised:“South African artists Gabrielle Goliath & Simon Gush, in discussion with Neelika Jayawardane.” State University of New York-Oswego (SUNY-Oswego). 1stMarch, 2019.
  • “Gabrielle Goliath, Simon Gush, Jaleel Campbell, in discussion with Neelika Jayawardane”. Syracuse University, Newhouse Centre for Global Engagement. “‘No Innocence This Side of the Womb’: Confronting Issues of Equality, Privilege, and Justice, From Syracuse and South Africa”. ( 2019.
  • Invited speaker at symposium:“‘Inside the artery of political consciousness’: Khotso House, the Afrapix Photographers’ Collective, and the Synergies and Confluences that provided ‘a small and embattled community’ with a Practical Political Education”. Photography and Resistance Research symposium. 29th– 30thJanuary 2019. University of Brighton.
  • Invited speaker at symposium:“‘The famous and the obscure were there, waitingfor freedom’: Jeeva Rajgopaul’s photographs of South African Exiles in New York, 1991”. Conference: “Curatorial Care, Humanising Practices – Past Presences as Present Encounters”.VIAD, University of Johannesburg, 11-13 April, 2018.
  • Public talk: in conversation with Paul Weinberg: On Common Ground: David Goldblatt & Peter MagubaneGoodman Gallery, Cape Town. 27 October 2019. 
  • Invited speaker at opening of exhibition:“The Body as a ‘Homing Device’: South African Artists and Performance”. Exhibition opening of Cairns Art Gallery, Queensland, Australia. Continental Drift: Black / Blak Art From South Africa and North Australia. Cairns Art Gallery, Cairns, Queensland, Australia. 10 July 2018.

Performances and exhibitions

Invited Reviewer/ Arts Critic & Writer

  • 2017 Venice Biennale. Venice, Italy. May 2017.
  • Johannesburg Art Fair. Johannesburg, South Africa. September 2016.
  • Rencontres de Bamako (Bamako Encounters), 10th Edition: “Telling Time”. Invited Arts Writer – Guest of curator Olabisi Silva. November 1-5, 2015.
  • Sharjah Biennale. May 10-16, 2015. Invited Writer – Guest of Hoor Al-Qasimi, President of The Sharjah Art Foundation.

Workshop Leader:

  • Critical Writing Workshop for Arts Writers. Sponsored by Contemporary And, a site for writing about contemporary art from Africa. Harare, Zimbabwe. Lecturer/Workshop Leader. Sept. 2017.
  • Goethe-Institut Johannesburg’s Centres of Learning for Photography in Africa (CLPA) at Lagos Photo Festival. Critical skills workshop for photographers. Lagos, Nigeria. Workshop leader/lecturer. October 2016.

External Grants, Fellowships, Residencies (recent):

  • Writer-in-Residence. Woodstock Artist/Writer-in-Residence programme, Woodstock Centre for Photography (CPW). Woodstock, NY. 2020.
  • Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Special Grant. Dec. 2020-ongoing in 2021.
    The long-form essay I wrote, “‘This is not the correct history’: Lacunae, Contested Narratives, and Evidentiary Images from Sri Lanka’s Civil War,” interweaves scholarship on visual work, critical analysis of photography, personal narrative, and photographs.
  • Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for a book project (Jan. 2018 – Dec. 2018).