Narratives Of The New Diaspora: Migration And Transnationalism In Contemporary African Literature

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Comparative Literature and Literary Theory
African American Studies
African Languages and Societies
African Studies
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Irele, Augusta Atinuke

This dissertation examines narratives of the new African diaspora– texts that represent the experiences of a largely visible group of mobile Africans. This project calls for a new theory that pushes us to understand diaspora as an activity, a deliberate and continuous examination of various affiliations. I argue for a more capacious reading of the many ways in which diaspora can function, as an organizing principle, as a theory, and as a practice, to make room for the multiple and different manners that narratives of migration and travel explore the contours of belonging to Africa. New diaspora narratives, by prominently emphasizing transnationalism, belonging, and unbelonging, activate a concept of diaspora as a continuous series of translations and transformations with implications both in the places of migrants’ origins and in their new host locales. The complexities of tangible but fraught and fractured allegiances and affinities haunt new diaspora literatures in manners both implicit and explicit. Within the negotiations are re-configurations of notions of home and belonging that require the migrant to invest in or question what being of Africa even means. This project focuses on the discursive space between the continent of Africa, the old, and the new African diaspora to outline a contemporary global Black subjectivity. African literature has long proven itself to be particularly effective at casting an eye on and subverting or critiquing conventions and boundaries. New diaspora narratives build upon post- and decolonial methodologies and tropes to craft new articulations of agency and self-fashioning in a contemporary globalized world. Narratives of the new African diaspora, I argue, are crucial to examining contemporary globalization, racialization, and ultimately the ideoscapes of Africa and Africanness that continue to be so central to the global circulation of goods and ideas.

Rita Barnard
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