Narrating Human Rights in Africa claims human rights from the perspective of artists from the African continent and situates the key theoretical concepts in African perspectives, undercutting the stereotypes of victimhood and voicelessness.
Instead of positioning literary texts as illustrative of points already theorized elsewhere, the author foregrounds the literature itself to show the concepts it offers, the ideas and responses stemming from complex historical circumstances in Africa and expressed by African writers. The book focuses on how narrative creates new categories of thought challenging human rights dogma, whereas the sum of the literary voices evoked also stands by the values of social justice and protection of human rights. The chapters take up key challenges to the narration of human rights in which the contribution of African writers is particularly important. This includes human dignity in the resistance to apartheid, the figure of the child soldier, how humanitarianism’s images affect representational strategies of contemporary African writers, the challenge of testifying about rape in war, how to evoke the disappeared body of the torture victim, the centrality of flight in the refugee and migrant experiences, and finally the long shadow of the "heart of darkness" motif.
Offering a sustained examination of the narrative treatment of key human rights concerns as expressed by African writers, this book will be of interest to scholars of African literature, postcolonial studies, and African studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Narrating Human Rights in Africa 1. The Dignity of the "Unfittest:" Victims’ Stories in South Africa 2. Congo Cases: The Stories of Human Rights History 3. The Child Soldier Narrative and the Problem of Arrested Historicization: An Argument Revisited 4. Improbable Figures: Realist Fictions of Insecurity 5. The Refugee Experience and Human Rights Narrative 6. "You Only Have Your Word": Rape and Testimony 7. Torture and Textuality: Guantánamo Diary as Postcolonial Text 8. Evoking the Body of the Disappeared in Assia Djebar and Nuruddin Farah
Eleni Coundouriotis is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Connecticut, USA