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This chapter provides a critical overview of how Sub-Saharan Francophone Africans have engaged with the form of the novel from the period of decolonization to the first decades of the new millennium. It is meant for readers new to the Sub-Saharan Francophone novel and for those needing an updated overview of the major periods and authors that have brought visibility and coherence to the field. It is organized chronologically to combine classic literary historiography and highlights for each period landmark publications, thematic continuities, and formal innovations. It also offers contextual insights underscoring the specificity of novelistic production in a variety of African postcolonial situations. In each case these developments follow the imperative to represent African realities within a language—and often literary models—imposed by a colonial power: France. The chapter offers an updated reassessment of previous literary historiographies, insisting not only on formal considerations, but also on the evolution of the cultural status of the African novel across periods and in various literary markets. It includes a final section on contemporary ‘turns’ which further expose some of the recent developments, both formal and sociological, that have contributed to the most spectacular refashionings of novelistic production in the twenty-first century.
Reflecting on Derek Walcott’s early relationship with movement, dance and ritual, this article sheds light on the centrality of embodied memory in Walcott’s work for the stage and reflects on the relationship between memory and materiality in his epistemology of performance. Walcott’s ideas shaped his approach to dramaturgy in the late 1950s and position his work in relation to global debates around materialism (Brecht) and ritualism (Grotowski) in the theatre. A discussion of two plays, Dream on Monkey Mountain and Pantomime, examines the use of gestural language in specific performances of each. Such an approach demonstrates that the importance of embodied memory, as reflected in the staging of these plays, relates to certain Afro-Caribbean belief systems, which have exerted much influence on Walcott’s work. The article also emphasizes how Walcott’s theatre functions as a decolonial praxis that fosters the emergence of empowered subjectivities and Africanist modes of humanness that challenge the cultural order of colonialism. Jason Allen-Paisant is a lecturer in Caribbean Poetics and Decolonial Thought at the University of Leeds, and Director of the Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. He is currently at work on the monograph Staging Black Futures in the Twenty-First Century.
The decolonization, a process that leads to the nominal independence and international recognition of states, gained momentum in the late-1950s, having its peak in 1960, the African year, when 18 colonies, protectorates, and trust territories became independent. This chapter explores the decolonization of Africa from three perspectives: of the colonial powers, of the colonial states, i.e. the colonies themselves, and of the international system. It argues that there is not one explanation to capture the decolonization. Only if we scrutinize decolonisation from all three perspectives, we are able to comprehend that process in its complexity.
The conventional account of anglophone Caribbean writing from the nationalist period often tends to focus on male writers. Early articulations of a Caribbean literary tradition overlooked many writers, especially women, who did not fit into the frameworks of canon-builders like Kamau Brathwaite and Kenneth Ramchand. Almost up to the end of the 1970s, Jean Rhys remained the single widely known woman author, while a generation of writers who were arguably closer to changing Caribbean realities were neglected. During the past twenty years, scholarship on Caribbean writing has sought to recuperate these writers and take seriously their contributions, addressing how these might challenge conventional accounts of Caribbean literary cultures and characteristics. The result has been an expanded sense of the aesthetic and political projects of the period – a period marked by significant sociopolitical change in countries increasingly asserting cultural specificities and moving towards political autonomy. This essay focuses on five early anglophone Caribbean women writers of diverse backgrounds: Phyllis Shand Allfrey, Amy Jacques Garvey, Una Marson, Elma Napier, and Sylvia Wynter. While making different aesthetic choices, these authors gave passionate voice to the dominant concerns of their time – in particular the anticolonial struggle, socioeconomic disparities, and racial/cultural identity – as well as articulating issues of gender.
This chapter conceptualizes, codes, and provides a visualization of property rights gaps. Land can be held by individuals, groups, and governments; ownership can be formalized or informal in various ways; and property rights can face a diverse array of restrictions. I home in on several critical components of property rights in constructing my property rights gap measures: land formalization, defensibility, and alienability. I use these aspects of property rights to construct measures of complete, partial, and absent property rights. Based on these definitions, this chapter outlines the original data, I collected on land reform and property rights through land titling in Latin America, and then visualizes the data used to construct measures of the property rights gap. The chapter situates the data and patterns relative to important forms of landholding such as collective and communal land rights, cooperatives, land that is nationalized, and individually held land. This chapter also discusses the evolution of land rights in Latin America from the colonial period to the early 1900s.
This essay charts the co-implication of the personal and the intellectual in the work of international legal thinker Krystyna Marek, a Polish exile who wrote in the context of the dissolution of empire in Eastern Europe. Marek’s 1954 book The Identity and Continuity of States in Public International Law reflected a fundamental shift in international legal reasoning on the birth and death of states. How and through what means might a state’s legal identity survive revolution, imperial administration, or belligerent occupation? How would observers know if a state’s international personality was extinguished? To offer a legal answer to these questions, Marek argued, one must think ‘from outside states,’ as states themselves were unable to think their own non-existence. She contributed the first systematic presentation of international law as a vantage point (or legal fiction) that existed both before and after states, and was thus capable of governing their creation and extinction.
At the turn of the 1960s, Léopold Sédar Senghor and John F. Kennedy vowed to radically transform African foreign policy. Through a close reading of a recently declassified correspondence and a historical analysis of two behind-the-scenes negotiations, Senghor’s first state visit to the U.S. and Kennedy’s support for the First World Festival of Negro Arts, Ripert examines the private and public concatenations that lead both statesmen to transform policymaking not by implementing new policies but by challenging inherited ideologies. Though their efforts did not always bring successful change in policymaking, the diplomatic correspondence between the two newly elected leaders reveals a more subtle and sustainable transformation: a decolonization of diplomacy.
Teaching introductory archaeology courses in U.S. higher education typically falls short in two important ways: the courses do not represent the full picture of who contributes to reconstructing the past, and they do not portray the contemporary and future relevance of the archaeological past. In this article, we use anti-colonial and decolonial theories to explain the urgency of revising the introductory archaeology curriculum for promoting equity in the discipline and beyond. We detail the pedagogical theories we employed in revising an introductory archaeology course at a small liberal arts college in the United States and the specific changes we made to course structure, content, and teaching strategies. To examine the impacts on enrolled students and on who chose to enroll in the revised archaeology curriculum, we analyze student reflection essays and enrollment demographics. We found that students developed more complex understandings of the benefits and harms of archaeological knowledge production and could articulate how to address archaeology's inequities. We also found that enrollment in archaeology courses at the college shifted to include greater proportions of students of color. These results support the notion that introductory archaeology courses should be substantially and continually revised.
This chapter outlines the nature of the “Franco-Chadian state” and its early postcolonial political evolution. It highlights the deep embeddedness of French influence in the Chadian economy and security services. It also provides an overview of the broader context of postcolonial Franco-African relations and French strategic aims in its former empire. The chapter then examines the outbreak of civil war in the country. In 1965, communities in central Chad rebelled against abusive governmental taxation. Quickly the revolt spread throughout the country and gradually its disparate factions became more organized under the loose banner of the Front de Liberation Nationale du Tchad (Frolinat). By early 1969, Frolinat elements threatened Fort-Lamy, Chad’s capital. This chapter examines the nature of this rebellion and French President Charles de Gaulle’s decision, in the final weeks of his presidency, to launch a sizeable military intervention on behalf of Tombalbaye’s regime. This intervention included an important statebuilding component, the Mission pour la réforme administrative (MRA). It aimed to address the administrative failures that French policymakers saw as a root cause of the rebellion. The chapter concludes with a description of the MRA’s mission and an analysis of its ultimate failure.
The intellectual territory of “apocalypse in American literature and culture” rightfully belongs to indigenous peoples as a result of their historical experiences of what historian Gerald Horne has recently called “the apocalypse of settler colonialism.” Indigenous speculative fiction occupies an epistemically privileged standpoint for historicizing and theorizing the planetary apocalypse that we all (and many nonhuman others besides) increasingly face in the form of biospheric deterioration—a deterioration so profound that it registers in the geologic record, prompting the formulation of a new epoch, the Anthropocene. This “end of the world” follows directly from the rapacious practices of dispossession and accumulation that ended indigenous worlds. This essay decolonizes the Anthropocene by coining the term Americocene to pinpoint a specific process of settler apotheosis as a key cause of our planetary plight. The designation Americocene traces the environmental degradation inscribed in the geologic record to the eschatological inscription of settler life into indigenous lands. Now more of us can see what indigenous peoples have always been in a position to see—namely, that the systems of production and social reproduction variously written into the earth by settler apotheosis promise not the advent of the millennium but the protraction of apocalypse.
Examining the continuous French military interventions in Chad in the two decades after its independence, this study demonstrates how France's successful counterinsurgency efforts to protect the regime of François Tombalbaye would ultimately weaken the Chadian state and encourage Libya's Muammar Gaddafi to intervene. In covering the subsequent French efforts to counter Libyan ambitions and the rise to power of Hissène Habré, one of postcolonial Africa's most brutal dictators, Nathaniel K. Powell demonstrates that French strategies aiming to prevent the collapse of authoritarian regimes had the opposite effect, exacerbating violent conflicts and foreign interventions in Chad and further afield. Based on extensive archival research to trace the causes, course, and impact of French interventions in Chad, this study offers insights and lessons for current interveners - including France - fighting a 'war on terrorism' in the Sahel whose strategies and impact parallel those of France in the 1960s–1980s.
Prompted by Achille Mbembe's reading of how racial assignation functions, this article examines the recurrences of two blackface ballet characters, the Golden Slave in Schéhérazade and the Blackamoor in Petrouchka, on twentieth and twenty-first-century dance stages, in exhibits, research, and pedagogy. The company that first performed these racist stereotypes, the Ballets Russes, has been canonized as crucial to the emergence of modernism in the performing arts more generally, although consistently Orientalized in the process. The designation of works revolving around racist stereotypes as “masterpieces,” and their constant reiteration, amounts to complicity with racism that is not limited to ballet stages.
This chapter examines how Jewish internationalists briefly flirted with constitutional reform and imperial oversight before deploying human rights to encourage Jewish departure from Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia during postcolonial transitions. They showed a profound distrust of the future disposition of Muslim rulers and called for pledges to allow North African Jews the right to leave, a claim that highlighted Jewish liminality in the postcolonial order. To argue that the future rulers of these new states had to pledge in advance to allow Jewish emigration rendered the integration of Jews into new North African states more difficult. Jewish activists ultimately wielded human rights in the service of Zionist aims, a marked contrast from other concurrent human rights activity that seeks to check the excesses of state sovereignty.
This article exemplifies a mode of analysis in which the novel is read as a practice of self-making under decolonization. The argument is illustrated through attention to Lee Kok Liang’s novel London Does Not Belong to Me. Written describing Lee’s experiences as a Malayan law student in London in the 1950s, the novel was published posthumously in Malaysia fifty years later. Comparison of the published text with Lee’s journal of his student days enables a careful study of the process of the novelization of the self as an example of larger processes of subjectification through authorship in the process of decolonization, and in the creation of elite citizen-subjects in the nation-state of Malaya and its successor states of Malaysia and Singapore.
The history of medieval West Africa is defined by the age of three great empires that succeeded one another: Ghāna, Māli, and Songhay. How did these empires come to frame our view of the West African past? To answer the question, we have to understand first how the European and Eurocentric concept of an empire was imposed on a specific African context and why it thrived. In this respect, the case of Sudanic empires in particular illuminates the process of history writing and scholars’ relationship with their time and object of study. In the last few years, Sudanic empires have made a prominent return to the historical conversation. I propose here a critical reflection on ‘empire’ and ‘imperial tradition’ in the western Sahel based on europhone and non-europhone (Arabic) historiographies, from the first histories written in postmedieval West Africa to those produced by twenty-first-century scholarship.
This chapter outlines the connections between African resistance to cultural imperialism during the colonial era, the call to “decolonize the mind” in the 1970s and 1980s, and, finally, debates about decolonizing development today. All of these movements have challenged the racial and cultural inequalities built into the development episteme. Decolonizing development entails much more than pointing out the legacies of the civilizing mission or colonialism in contemporary development discourses on Africa. Both Western and African cultures transformed over time, but what has not changed is the perception that the former is “modern” and the latter “traditional.” The false dichotomy between the “developed” West (or “the global north”) and the “less developed” or “developing” countries of Africa (as part of “the global south”) reifies colonial-era stereotypes and continues to fuel the development industry. Whether seeking to transform a “backward” custom or making decisions about expenditure, hierarchies of power are foundational to the development episteme. As long as Africans remain the targets of intervention rather than the policy makers or drivers of development, and as long as development remains an industry whose power base remains in the global north, efforts to decolonize development will fail to restructure the development episteme.
The Idea of Development in Africa challenges prevailing international development discourses about the continent, by tracing the history of ideas, practices, and 'problems' of development used in Africa. In doing so, it offers an innovative approach to examining the history and culture of development through the lens of the development episteme, which has been foundational to the 'idea of Africa' in western discourses since the early 1800s. The study weaves together an historical narrative of how the idea of development emerged with an account of the policies and practices of development in colonial and postcolonial Africa. The book highlights four enduring themes in African development, including their present-day ramifications: domesticity, education, health, and industrialization. Offering a balance between historical overview and analysis of past and present case studies, Elisabeth McMahon and Corrie Decker demonstrate that Africans have always co-opted, challenged, and reformed the idea of development, even as the western-centric development episteme presumes a one-way flow of ideas and funding from the West to Africa.
This chapter focuses on psychology in South Africa as a discipline and profession embedded in a history of colonialism and apartheid. It a describes South African psychology as a site of epistemological contestation shaped by historical racial identities and relations of power and asserts that liberation psychology is central to the contribution of the profession to eliminating human rights violations and fostering well-being. National student protests in 2015–2016 called for the “decolonization” of the curriculum, bringing into sharp focus the decades-long debate about the relevance of psychology and the need for transformation. While the focus is psychology in South Africa, the chapter broadens the discussion of decolonizing the field to other nations plagued by histories of racial oppression such as Australia and the United States. Changes in the decolonizing process are not without their challenges, yet in a field of study that is one of the most popular among students, a cogent move toward decolonizing the psychology curriculum entails the invention of new voices and theories as well as liberation psychology practices that center squarely on the needs for equity, violence prevention, and social justice.
What role did law play in articulating sovereignty and citizenship in postcolonial Africa? Using legal records from the secessionist Republic of Biafra, this article analyzes the relationship between law and national identity in an extreme context—that of the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970). Ideas about order, discipline, and legal process were at the heart of Biafra's sense of itself as a nation, and they served as the rhetorical justification for its secession from Nigeria. But they were not only rhetoric. In the turmoil of the ensuing civil war, Biafra's courts became the center of its national culture, and law became its most important administrative implement. In court, Biafrans argued over what behaviors were permissible in wartime, and judges used law to draw the boundaries of the new country's national identity. That law played this role in Biafra shows something broader about African politics: law, bureaucracy, and paperwork meant more to state-making than declensionist views of postcolonial Africa usually allow. Biafra failed as a political project, but it has important implications for the study of law in postcolonial Africa, and for the nation-state form in general.