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Violence in Francophone African and Caribbean Women's Literature

Marie-Chantal Kalisa

Publication Year: 2009

African and Caribbean peoples share a history dominated by the violent disruptions of slavery and colonialism. While much has been said about these “geographies of pain,” violence in the private sphere, particularly gendered violence, receives little attention. This book fills that void. It is a critical addition to the study of African and Caribbean women’s literatures at a time when women from these regions are actively engaged in articulating the ways in which colonial and postcolonial violence impact women.
Chantal Kalisa examines the ways in which women writers lift taboos imposed on them by their society and culture and challenge readers with their unique perspectives on violence. Comparing women from different places and times, Kalisa treats types of violence such as colonial, familial, linguistic, and war-related, specifically linked to dictatorship and genocide. She examines Caribbean writers Michele Lacrosil, Simone Schwartz-Bart, Gisèle Pineau, and Edwidge Danticat, and Africans Ken Begul, Calixthe Beyala, Nadine Bar, and Monique Ilboudo. She also includes Sembène Ousmane and Frantz Fanon for their unique contributions to the questions of violence and gender. This study advances our understanding of the attempts of African and Caribbean women writers to resolve the tension between external forms of violence and internal forms resulting from skewed cultural, social, and political rules based on gender.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: Geographies of Pain

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pp. 1-17

By sharing a history dominated by the violent disruptions of slavery, colonialism, and latent neocolonialism, African and Caribbean peoples belong to what Françoise Lionnet calls “geographies of pain.”1 Caribbeanist Jack Corzani identifies various forms of this historical violence. ...

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1. Exclusion as Violence: Frantz Fanon, Black Women, and Colonial Violence

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pp. 19-41

Critical studies of African and Caribbean women writing remain scarce.1 The reasons for this absence are twofold. First, at the beginning of the formation of African literary studies in the mid-twentieth century, there were relatively few women writers in Africa and the Caribbean. ...

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2. Representing Colonial Violence: Michèle Lacrosil's Cajou, Ken Bugul's, Le Baobab fou, and Ousmane Sembène's La noire de . . .

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pp. 42-76

In this chapter, I posit that the selected works by Michèle Lacrosil, Ken Bugul, and Ousmane Sembène complicate Fanon’s formula for colonial violence by offering a specifically female perspective on the experience and legacy of colonialism’s brutality. This chapter discusses these...

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3. Writing Familial Violence: Storytelling and Integrational Violence in Simone Schwarz-Bart's Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle and Calixthe Beyla's Tu t'appelleras Tanga

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pp. 77-113

In her article “Sheroes and Villains: Conceptualizing Colonial and Contemporary Violence against Women in Africa,” Amina Mama locates the source of contemporary African models of patriarchal violence in colonial states. These states not only used the famous colonial formula...

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4. Sites of Violence: Language, the Body, and Women's Deterritorialization in Gisèle Pineau's L'espérance-macadam Calixthe Beyala's C'est le soleil qui m'a brûlée

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pp. 114-150

Calixthe Beyala and Gisèle Pineau explore further the concept of “geographies of pain” by depicting intimate space, language, and the body as sites of pain, exile, and resistance to violence.1 In the tradition of women’s literature, the two writers turn their attention to internal...

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5. War and Political Violence

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pp. 151-184

In this chapter, I examine how women writers redefine war in their writing about political violence. The term war normally refers to a “hostile contention by means of armed forces, carried on between nations, states, or rulers, or between parties in the same nation or state...

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pp. 185-188

As African and Caribbean writings become ever more intimistes (intimist)—as authors present more intimate and deeply private topics — an examination of the subject of violence and particularly its gendered form in literature is crucial to the understanding of Francophone women writers. ...


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pp. 189-198

Works Cited

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pp. 199-210


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pp. 211-225

E-ISBN-13: 9780803226883
E-ISBN-10: 0803226888

Publication Year: 2009