This paper traces the transformation of ethnology and interpretation in the work of artist Anne Eisner (Putnam) and anthropologist Colin Turnbull. Eisner, who made her home at the edge of the Ituri Forest of the former Belgian Congo (DRC) during the 1940s and 1950 and again in 1957-58, transcribed two hundred Mbuti Pygmy legends; Turnbull used these legends (in the case studied here, transformed one of them) to map an oppositional world view: the Mbuti Pygmy/Bira villager, forest/village, good mother/ bad mother. Eisner looks to crossovers and intersections rather than the polarizations of inclusion and exclusion presented by Turnbull. Her complex view of this society can be understood from her painting and comes out of her own situation as one of the "mothers," a woman, a Westerner, and a painter. What is at stake is the dialogue between the foreign and the familiar that creates differing interpretations, often blurring the line between observation and its transformation into writing or art.
Setting itself within the ongoing debate surrounding the political and aesthetic commitments of the author's work, this essay provides an alternative to broadly political readings of Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist, rereading the novel as an exploration of the disabling effects of radical alterity upon the symbolic totalities of both subjectivity and politics. Using a theoretical framework of concepts derived from Emmanuel Levinas and Julia Kristeva, the paper analyzes the ethical position of the novel within a psychoanalytic model of the self, explores the limits of the text's ethics, and evaluates its function as a literary work.
South Africa. Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
This article investigates South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a form of cultural articulation in dialogue with Farida Karodia's Other Secrets and Beverley Naidoo's Out of Bounds. I situate the TRC as an opening device that is inherently limited in terms of being only one (polemical) narrative of the past—literature is another. Narrative in post-Apartheid South Africa therefore forms a dialogue with both the silences of Apartheid and those of the TRC, by occupying seemingly contradictory positions simultaneously. The opening of narrative space and the eschewal of certain oppositions are central in terms of the theoretical shifts that the TRC has engendered—shifts that can be seen in contemporary post-Apartheid narratives such as Other Secrets and Out of Bounds. In crossing and erasing thresholds of meaning between public and private, insider and outsider, history and fiction, memory and story, silence and articulation, through a freeing of narrative form, Karodia and Naidoo are re-narrating the cultural boundaries of the nation.
Petals of Blood, the fourth and the last novel that Ngugi wa Thiong'o wrote in English and published in 1977, contains numerous moments of untranslated African expressions that presage his 1986 abandonment of English as a literary medium. The untranslated expressions are intensely gendered and argue for scrutiny because of their prominence and obtrusiveness in an Anglophone text. In figuring the untranslated desire from colonialism to independence, the novel also enacts narrative contradictions and silences that are equally sexualized. This essay attempts to analyze the gendered implications of these choices to show that Ngugi conflates untranslated language and women's status to concretize the narrative's frustration with the post-independence condition without transcending the patriarchal and colonial hegemonies that the text seeks to overthrow. Turning to Gikuyu in the text and in his later writing does not resolve the contradiction.
The essay explores the Islamic dimension of the novel Le baobab fou (The Abandoned Baobab) by the Senegalese author Ken Bugul to demonstrate that the identity crisis felt by the protagonist Ken in the novel is not only of an African but that of an African Muslim in particular and that this psychological alienation of Muslims provoked by colonialism did not end with colonialism but continues even today as seen in Ken's experiences in Belgium in a capitalistic and neocolonial environment. The analysis explores whether Ken as an African Muslim is allowed to create a truly multicultural space where her cultural and spiritual differences are not suppressed but allowed to co-exist through negotiation and dialogue. To this end, Ken's experiences as a post-colonial subject assume a particular dimension: that of an African Muslim first alienated by false ideologies learned in the French colonial school and later by systems such as capitalism.
This article analyzes the Algerian writer Assia Djebar's uncertain and ambiguous relationship with feminism. While her work is clearly preoccupied with women's experiences, the notion of a collective feminine identity remains a subject of contention, and female characters are frequently presented as both singular and elusive. In Vaste est la prison, the author sets out to trace a coherent genealogy of Algerian women, but the narrative at once hints at and disrupts any clear linking threads. For this reason, I argue that feminist resistance for Djebar revolves not around the uncomplicated celebration of female solidarity, but around a continual shifting between collective and singular critique. Women's resistance to patriarchal oppression in Algeria consists of a continual process of convergence and divergence. Djebar does not propose a single feminist argument but charts instead the very difficult process of creating a shared concrete cause.
This article looks at the thematics of the visual and the visionary in La voyeuse interdite, the first publication of the Franco-Algerian writer Nina Bouraoui. Engaging with a range of theoretical approaches relevant to contemporary women's writing, it points up the significance of representation for Bouraoui's protagonist, Fikria, in both literary and more general political terms. The bi-focal narrative approach in La voyeuse interdite—in which the visual is anchored in a more objective, "external" portrayal of Fikria's existence in her parents' home in Algiers and the visionary, in her subjective imaginative fantasies—allows Bouraoui to depict the everyday reality experienced by Algerian women confined to the home, as well as to articulate their private responses to it in the form of Fikria's visionary interludes: if the role of the visual can be considered to represent that reality, the visionary re-presents it. It is the political potential inherent in this "double vision" that in turn encourages the reader to re-view such notions as subversion and resistance.
Roumain, Jacques, 1907-1944. Gouverneurs de la rosée.
Politics in literature.
Communism in literature.
This article analyzes the depiction of contact and revolutionary politics in Jacques Roumain's Gouverneurs de la rosée (1944). While this novel is often interpreted as participating in a narrow cultural nationalism, I show the ways that Roumain, in fact, represents a liberatory internationalism that connects the demands of Haiti's rural populace to the larger context of the Marxist-influenced decolonization struggles of the World War Two era. Revisiting the more political aspects of Edouard Glissant's theories of creolization and revealing their similarities to another recent analysis of "global modernity" and proletarian internationalism, I argue that Roumain's novel could be seen as corresponding with rather than opposing current notions of hybridity and cultural heterogeneity in the Caribbean. I thus analyze the novel's main character, a migrant sugarcane cutter, as a figure of creolization that grounds cultural creolization in the economics of one specific moment of US imperialism in the Caribbean.