Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Patricia J. Saunders

Second Committee Member

Brenna Munro

Third Committee Member

Timothy Watson

Fourth Committee Member

Supriya Nair


“(Re)Placing Nations: Postcolonial Women’s Contestations of Spatial Discourses” reads the proliferation of literary representations of landscapes in recent work by Jamaica Kincaid, Shani Mootoo, Edwidge Danticat, Yvonne Vera, Monica Arac de Nyeko and Toni Morrison as a trope for rethinking the nation as a space with physical boundaries. In this project I make the distinction between space as an ideological construct and place as a physical entity. Both place and space are connected to ideologies yet have specific implications for constructions of gender and sexuality. My project considers the dual yet dialectically related processes of creating physical space and identity formation. Recent frames for engaging questions of citizenship and belonging have more sought to be broadly diasporic. This analysis re-centers these debates in more localized spatial discourses. I argue that writers examined in my project revise literary forms such as the pastoral, cartographic tropes, garden writing and the peasant novel in order to deconstruct various national divisions of space and place that exclude women, ethnic minorities and rural citizens. My project posits that contemporary African and African diaspora women’s literature constructs these places as open and evolving in a dialectical relationship with communities whose subject formation is intimately connected to their physical environments. By insisting on these distinctions, formerly rigid boundaries that separated the public from the private, the rural from the urban, the migrant from the rooted are challenged along with the implicit geography of power that scaffolds these separations.


Postcolonial Women; Land