Academic Discourses on African Postcolonial Literature in the Past 20 Years
ebook ∣ An Annotated Bibliography
By Anna Poppen
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Project Report from the year 2012 in the subject Literature - Africa, grade: 1,0, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, language: English, abstract: The academic discourse on African postcolonial literature is characterized by a continuous process of debates on a variety of issues, reassessments of theories and redefinitions of terms. The term African postcolonial literature refers to writings produced after the political independence of various African states which were formerly subject to European colonial rule. Most of this literature written by African authors in their home countries or in diaspora deals with issues of colonial experience or decolonization. However, as Graham Huggan points out, the term African literature is a problematic concept, because "it conveys a fiction of homogeneity" and ignores the cultural variety existing on the African continent. Gikandi explains that the foundations of modern African literature have been laid by the process of colonization, e.g through education in Christian schools which have enabled today's forms of literature. Gikandi emphasizes the irony of this fact: "[W]hile the majority of African writers were the products of colonial institutions, they turned to writing to oppose colonialism." This leads to various problems when dealing with African writings, especially when applying the viewpoint of postcolonial criticism, which has been trying to theorize African writings since the 1980s. As Huggan points out, postcolonial criticism has been criticized "as subscribing to the very binaries (e.g. 'Europe and its Others') it seeks to resist." This paper contains an annotated bibliography which considers various issues regarding African postcolonial literature that have been discussed in the past 20 years. Here, the term African postcolonial literature is understood in a temporal way (referring to the postcolonial era in Africa) and in an academic way (referring to the postcolonial discourse). The articles, collections of essays and monographs listed in the bibliography only provide glimpses at the extensive and elaborate discourses on African postcolonial writings. However, the entries in the bibliography have been categorized in order to cast a light on the main issues and problems discussed in this field. In the following, introductory works and texts dealing with the two main genres of African literature will be presented first. Works referring to postcolonial theory and consequential problems and debates (e.g. on language) take the major part of the bibliography.