- Others' Africas:Recent Critical Studies of African Literature
In the past there has been something of a tendency to talk of "African literature" as if it were some kind of monolith that could be easily encompassed under a single heading. There continue to be critics who persist in writing under such an assumption, and if one were to read only the critics, then there would be little impetus to challenge this point of view. However, the more one reads of the postcolonial literature of Africa in the European languages, the more one becomes aware not only of the differences among "national" literatures but also of the regional and ethnic differences within them. Richard Priebe rightly calls his collection of essays on Ghanaian writers, Ghanaian Literatures, and the plural applies equally to any consideration of the fiction produced in Nigeria, East Africa, or the Francophone territories. Furthermore, not only does one have to characterize "African literature" as existing in the plural, but one also must say the same about the criticism on and theorizing about postcolonial literatures in general and African literatures in particular. One of the flaws in Bill Ashcroft et al.'s groundbreaking introduction to the theory and practice of postcolonial literatures published in 1989 is that it attempted to postulate a single theory and approach for the enormous diversity of practices that constitute the postcolonial literatures, a position that becomes even more impossible if one extends the concerns of the book beyond its strict Anglophone focus. By 1991, Helen Tiffin, one of Ashcroft's collaborators, has recognized that there are at least two different registers (or archives as she terms them) at work:
The first archive here constructs [post-colonialism] as writing . . . grounded in those societies whose subjectivity has been constituted in part by the subordinating power of European colonialism—that is writing from countries or regions which were formerly colonies of Europe. The second archive of post-colonialism is conceived as a set of discursive practices, prominent among which is a resistance to colonialism, colonialist ideologies, and their contemporary forms and subjectificatory legacies.(vii)
This move is a step in the right...