Afro-Nationalism: The Transcontinental Poetics of Newly Black Fiction

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This research applies a transcontinental method to fiction by a generation of newly Black writers in the United States of America and Britain, published in the twenty-first century. Drawing on what Michael O. West and William G. Martin call a transcontinental paradigm of African and African diaspora studies; the dissertation problematizes the colonial invention of nation-states in Africa and argues that fiction by newly Black writers published under a neoliberal phase of neo-colonialism imagines freedom as both the abolition of the colonial nation-state and the attainment of self-determination by indigenous nations and nationalities. This work, building on legal storytelling, counter storytelling and Critical Race Theory perspectives suggests that trained lawyers who write creatively use their literary work to simultaneously critique and practice the law and that indigenous African law is contained in the creative expressions of indigenous African peoples, at home and in the diaspora. In addition, the dissertation applies the legal feminist theorist Sylvia Tamale's postulation of Afro-feminism as the reclamation of the histories of Black women's pushback against domination to analyze the re-imagination of indigenous nationalisms in newly Black fiction as "Afro-nationalism." The study highlights the ways characters practice indigenous and diaspora nationalism through Black geographical readings of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s debut novel, Kintu, the orality of newly Black fiction as seen in NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, the interactions of indigenous African nationalism with Native American nationalism in Doreen Baingana’s linked short stories, Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe and the role of intimacy in disrupting narratives of class, racial, and gender struggles by inserting African indigeneity to the intersection of Manchester’s radical heritage. The transcontinental approach thus brings together African diaspora (Black) nationalisms with continental indigenous nationalisms. Further, building on abolition discourse in African Diaspora studies, the study suggests that the pushback against the colonial nation-state is a form of "abolition" nationalism. This study reveals the transcontinental poetics of newly Black fiction in the twenty-first century.

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359 pages


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Afro-Nationalism; Legal Storytelling; Transcontinental; Women writers


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Levine, Caroline

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Londe, Gregory
Warren, Lenora

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English Language and Literature

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Ph. D., English Language and Literature

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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