The Politics of Biography in Africa : Borders, Margins, and Alternative Histories of Power book cover
1st Edition

The Politics of Biography in Africa
Borders, Margins, and Alternative Histories of Power

Edited By

Anaïs Angelo

ISBN 9780367544249
Published September 6, 2021 by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

Bringing together historians, political scientists, and literary analysts, this volume shows how biographical narratives can shed light on alternative, little known or under-researched aspects of state power in African politics.

Part 1 shows how biographical narratives breathe new life into subjects who, upon decolonization, had been reduced to silence - women, workers, and radical politicians. The contributors analyze the complex relationship between biographical narratives and power, questioning either the power of biographical codes peculiar to western, colonial origins, or the power to shape public memory. Part 2 reflects on the act of (auto-)biography writing as an exercise of power, one that blurs the lines between truth and invention.  (Auto-)biographical narratives appear as politicized, ambiguous stories. Part 3 focuses on female leadership during and after colonization, exploring on how women gained, lost, or reinvented "power". Brought together, the contributions of this volume show that the function of biographical narratives should no longer oscillate between romanticized narratives and historical evidence; their varied formats all offer fruitful opportunities for a multidisciplinary dialogue.

This book will be of interest to scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds working on the African postcolonial state, the decolonization process, women’s and gender studies, and biography writing.

Table of Contents

Foreword. Fugitive freedoms, Grace A. Musila  Introduction, Anaïs Angelo  Part 1: Scales, borders and frameworks  Chapter 1. What are the boundaries of African political biography?, Martin Mourre, Ophélie Rillon, Alexis Roy  Chapter 2. Deconstructing heroic biography: Bibi Titi Mohamed, public history, and nation building, Cymone Fourshey and Marla L. Jaksch  Chapter 3. Fighting for national liberation in Africa: pan-African itineraries and national settlements, Sakiko Nakao  Part 2: Autobiographies as construction sites of power  Chapter 4. Tactics of intervention: Manipulating the "problematic self" in Janet Kataaha Museveni's A Life, Marciana Nafula Were  Chapter 5. Between truth and inventions. How public commemorations recite the biography of Amílcar Cabral, Víctor Barros  Chapter 6. Exploring borderlines of power in and through the auto/biographies of Ronnie Kasrils, Birgit Englert  Part 3: Hide and seek: women, politics and biography writing  Chapter 7. "Frieda von Bülow and Bibi Titi Mohammed: (De)colonised feminism in Tanzania, Diana Maria Naetermann  Chapter 10. Silenced no more: Doria Shafik speaks, Nada Halloway  Chapter 8. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma: A thwarted political destiny, Marianne Séverin  Chapter 9. Motherhood, and Sisterhood as alternative discourses of power  Postscriptum. Getting to grips with "political biographies", Kirsten Rüther

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Anaïs Angelo is a historian and currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna. She specializes in Kenyan political history, with a focus on biography-writing, presidential power and gender.