The Problem Of Home And Space In African Literature

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Current discussions of the idea of home in contemporary African literature revolve around two opposing positions: the nationalist position (Amilcar Cabral, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngugi wa Thion'go) that valorizes the past and the postmodernist position (Gilroy, Boyce-Davies, Deleuze) that challenges an earlier anti-colonialist evocation of authentic culture. My dissertation intervenes in this stalemate between nationalists and postmodernists by challenging the exclusiveness with which the nationalist writers have championed authenticity, and avoiding the absoluteness with which postmodernism has argued in favor of migrancy. My project pushes us instead to think of home and space beyond an either/or binary, and questions the unbridled embrace of indeterminate change. This new sensibility that the project is pushing towards recognizes that globalization has changed the parameters and therefore the conception of home. The nationalist writers' location of home in a fixed time and space is problematic, as it illusively wishes away cultural contact, transnational affiliations, and cross-border belongings. I argue, together with Spivak, that "this staging of origin, too neat and palliative, was not only medicine but a sort of poison as well, pharmakon. It was the gift of a European from within a monotheistic culture." Similarly, the notions of motion (Gilroy), migration (Boyce-Davies) or nomadism (Deleuze) that inform postmodernist sensibilities have undertones of elitism and tourism---which undermines the oppressed movement of slum dwellers, internally displaced people, and the homeless. The dissertation analyzes the idea of home in three historical moments---home at the dawn of national independence movements (1950s and 60s), the postcolonial home (1970-1990s), and the global home (1990s to present)---to show the impact of each period on the same. At its core, my project is interested in showing that the idea of home is much more complex than current readings allow. To that end: (i) it shows that the debate between roots and routes cannot be addressed outside of the gap between culture and politics which makes cultural hybrids look back; (ii) it complicates valorizations of the past to show cases of mourning, subversion, and progress, and thus moves beyond claims of atavism; (iii) it shifts from reading boundaries and places as fixed to reading them as fluid in order to account for transnational ties; (iv) it reads the constant motion of the homeless to escape the law against the constant motion of migration and travel to show how postmodernists' celebration of motion undermines the case of the homeless; (v) it shows how issues of gender, sexuality, race, and class have defined home, and deconstructs them to refigure a sense of home without hierarchies. Unless we address these disparities and misconceptions, we shall continue to feel out of place, even when we reside in places we consider home.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781243597090
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/3/2011
  • Pages: 72
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.15 (d)

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