Afropolitanism and the Novel: De-realizing Africa, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Afropolitanism and the Novel

De-realizing Africa, 1st Edition

By Ashleigh Harris

Routledge India

198 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-08-27
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Description

The place of the novel as a literary form in Africa is contested. Its colonial origins and its unaffordability for most Africans make it a bad fit for the continent, yet it was also central to the creation of most postcolonial African national literary canons. These bipolar traditions remain unresolved in recent debates about Afropolitanism and the novel in Africa today.

This book extends this debate, arguing that Africa’s ‘de-realization’ in global representation and the global economy is reflected in the African novel becoming dominated by Afropolitan, rather than African, aesthetics, styles, and forms. Drawing on close readings of a variety of major African novels of the 2000s, the volume traces the tensions between the novel’s complicity with and resistance to such de-realization. The book argues that current trends and experiments in African non-realist genres, such as science fiction, magical and animist realism, Afro-futurism, and speculative environmentalism, are the result of a preoccupation with such de-realization.

The volume is a significant exploration into literary form and its social, philosophical, political, and economic underpinnings. It will be a must-read for scholars, students, and researchers of African literature, politics, philosophy, and culture studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction: De-realization and the African Novel Part I: Afropolitanism and Literary Legitimacy 1. De-realizing Literary Form and Style Part II: De-Realization and the Aesthetics of Irrealism 2. Dissociation and Africa in the World 3. Street Lives and the Limits of Hustling 4. Detective Fictions in Submerged and Suspended Landscapes 5. Mutants and Contaminants in Afro-Futurist Irrealism Conclusion: Towards a Sustainable African Literary Future

About the Author

Ashleigh Harris is Associate Professor of English at Uppsala University, Sweden. She has published widely on Zimbabwean and South African literature. Harris is currently leading the ‘African Street Literature and the Future of Literary Form’ research project at Uppsala University, which collects, archives, and analyses sub-Saharan literary forms that are produced and circulated outside of the formal publishing industry. Harris is also a participant in the ‘Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics in World Literature’ research project, based at Stockholm University.

About the Series

Literary Cultures of the Global South

Recent years have seen challenging new formulations of the flows of influence in transnational cultural configurations and developments. In the wake of the end of the Cold War, the notion of the ‘Global South’ has arguably succeeded the demise of the tripartite conceptual division of the First, Second and Third Worlds. This notion is a flexible one referring to the developing nations of the once-colonized sections of the globe. The concept does not merely indicate shifts in geopolitics and in the respective affiliations of nations, and the economic transformations that have occurred, but also registers an emergent perception of a new set of relationships between nations of the Global South as their respective connections to nations of the north (either USA/USSR or the old colonial powers) diminish in significance. New social and cultural connections have become evident. This book series explores the literary manifestations (in their often intermedial, networked forms) of those south–south cultural connections together with academic leaders from those societies and cultures concerned.

The ‘Global South’ as an analytical term functions, in John Comaroff’s turn of phrase, as a ‘shifter’, taking on different inflections in varying disciplinary contexts — as a mere geographical descriptor, denoting a network of geopolitical regions, primarily in the southern hemisphere, with a common history of colonization; driven by processes of transformation (the Global South has and continues to be the site of an ongoing neo-colonial economic legacy as also of a number of emergent global economies such as India, China, Brazil and South Africa); as an index of a condition of economic and social precarity which, though primarily manifest in the ‘global south’, is also increasingly visible in the North (thus producing a ‘global south’); and, finally, as a utopian marker, signifying a fabric of economic exchanges that are beginning to bypass the Northern economies, and, gradually, a framework for political cooperations, especially from ‘below’ (Sandbrook, Prashad) which may offer alternatives to the hitherto hegemony of the Euro-American ‘North’.

Literary cultures are a particularly pregnant site of south–south cultural analysis as they represent the intersection of traditional and modern cultural forms, of south–south (and north–south) cultural exchange, particularly via modes of translation and interlingual hybridization, and refract various discourses of knowledge in a highly self-reflexive and critical fashion, thereby demanding and enabling an interdisciplinary dialogue with literary studies at its core. Hallowed connections between literary production and the postcolonial nation notwithstanding, transnational south–south literary connections have usually marked the (anti-)colonial, postcolonial and indeed contemporary digital epochs. Thus, literary cultures form one of the central historical and contemporary networked sites of intercultural self-articulation in the Global South. 

This series intervenes in the process and pre-empts the sort of bland institutionalization which has forestalled much of the intellectual force of postcolonial studies or the more recent world literature studies. It proposes wide-ranging interventions into the study of the literary cultures of the Global South that will establish an innovative paradigm for literary studies on the disciplinary terrain up until now occupied by the increasingly problematized areas of postcolonial studies or non-European national literary studies.

This series contributes to the re-writing of cultural and literary history in the specific domain of the literary cultures of the Global South. It attempts to fill in the many gaps left by Euro-American-dominated but ultimately ‘provincial’ Northern cultural histories. The study of the literary cultures of the Global South ‘swivels’ the axis of literary interrelations from the colonizer–colonized interface which, for instance, has preoccupied postcolonial literary studies since its inception (and which inevitably informed the ‘national’ compartmentalization of postcolonial literary study even when it averted its gaze from the colonizer), to a set of ‘lateral’ relationships which have always existed but until now largely ignored — and which, in an age of digital communication and online cultural production have begun to emerge, once again, into their properly prominent position.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LIT000000
LITERARY CRITICISM / General
LIT004010
LITERARY CRITICISM / African
LIT020000
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature
LIT025000
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / General
LIT025010
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Historical Events
LIT025030
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Politics
LIT025050
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Women
SOC053000
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies