We Won't Budge

We Won't Budge

by Manthia Diawara

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"Thirty years after leaving his native Mali, Manthia Diawara has a home in New York City, and more than a few acclaimed publications to his name. Still, he cannot shake the memories of his birth countr"See more details below


"Thirty years after leaving his native Mali, Manthia Diawara has a home in New York City, and more than a few acclaimed publications to his name. Still, he cannot shake the memories of his birth countr"

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Now director of the Africana Studies program at New York University, Malian native Diawara recounts his journey from rock and roll-struck adolescent to Parisian intellectual manque, and from D.C. dishwasher to New York teacher, in sharply wrought anecdotes. Whether evoking the pleasures of family life, good company and good food or describing the anxieties of living under the gaze of the French police or the INS, Diawara's narrative hand is economical and sure. But, as he explains to a fellow Malian he meets in Paris, he is less interested in being a memoirist or historian than one "who like[s] to question things, people, and history." This questioning centers around the meaning of what it is to be African in an age of globalization, an uneasy immigrant to a First World increasingly nervous about those outside its gates. Diawara's account of what he sees as the systemic racisms of France and the United States derives its descriptive power not only from a residue of sometimes bitter personal experience but from an unwillingness to let that experience blind him to the ways in which that racism can be internalized on all sides and passed on. Addressing with an eloquence all the more effective for its broad tolerance the daily brutalities of Western officialdom and ignorance, he is equally concerned with the forces of conformity and superstition that can hobble his community's demand for justice and fair treatment. If Diawara offers no ultimate solutions, his passionate but balanced testimony and analysis suggest a framework for usefully seeking answers. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An elegantly written, perceptive analysis of the tensions common to the immigration experience. Born in Mali, now a US resident, Diawara (In Search of Africa, 1998, etc.) makes a deceptively low-key but important argument about African immigration that questions both liberal and conservative notions about immigrants, as well as sentimental attitudes toward Africa. The author (Comparative Literature and Cinema Studies/NYU) begins with his arrival in Paris, where he planned to spend a yearlong sabbatical writing a book about a decolonization movement. Instead, felled by a debilitating malaria attack, he revisited his own past and pondered such topics as ethnicity, the difference between French and American attitudes to immigration, French racism, elements in African culture that hinder progress, and his own decisions about how to live and think. While working in Paris in the 1970s, he recalls, he was determined to move to the US, whose music, language, and literature he was assiduously studying. Once in Washington, D.C., he worked at two of the city�s then-fashionable French restaurants while studying at a local university. He saw and rejected his fellow immigrants� ambition to save enough money to make an impression when they returned home. He thought they should rather create new lives for themselves in the US, where, unlike France, the opportunities were numerous. Now, revisiting France, he remains critical of its widespread racism: liberals are intolerant of multiculturalism, the Right is nationalistic, individuals and bureaucrats are condescending and suspicious. Diawara also faults Africa�s extended-family system, which "locks people into conformity, saps the individual�s energies andresources, and prevents him from having a private life or accumulating fortunes necessary for the development of societies and industries." He deplores the fact that African immigrants in France retain practices like female circumcision that preserve the worst of their culture. A rich and provocative intellectual feast.

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Basic Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.70(d)

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