Publication Date

2015-05-03

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2017-05-02

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2015-04-10

First Committee Member

Brenna M. Munro

Second Committee Member

Patricia J. Saunders

Third Committee Member

Timothy P. Watson

Fourth Committee Member

Evan Mwangi

Abstract

My research underscores complex interactions between African artistic production, nationalism, gender inequality, and land rights. I deploy East Africa’s literary oeuvre—including novels, short stories and a Swahili play—to explore mutually informing social and artistic contexts that inspire phenomena as diverse as administrative land policies and utopian reformist schemes. I read transnational fiction against colonial photography and political manifestos, to address the “cross-pollination” of ideas and discourses. “Writing on the Soil” argues that postcolonial theory needs re-orienting towards materialist criticism and political conversations regarding resource inequality as suggested by texts that reflect on the material structures of neo/colonial domination in Africa. By recovering a lost argument within postcolonial theory about materiality and its influence on textual aesthetics and artistic production, “Writing on the Soil” examines the metaphorical labor that land performs in African literary and visual texts.

Keywords

East African literature; Anglophone African literature; African land rights; Swahili fiction; African postcolonial writing

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