Globality : the double bind of African migrant writing

Shabangu, Mohammad (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this dissertation, I consider the political implications of the aporetic position of contemporary African migrant writing in the arena of world literature. For this type of writing, forever interpellated by the domain of the world literary marketplace, there is a discernible worldly causality that seems to have exceeded its enunciatory modality. Following Pheng Cheah’s lead, I argue that the selected writing gestures towards a concern with a conception of the world beyond its merely spatial dimension which, at a certain hermeneutic level, would assume that globalisation creates a world. Because of this, I am interested in the more spiritual dimension of the narratives, more abstract than the concrete, visible presence of globalisation’s physiognomy and physical border crossings. More important, this literature’s worldly causality is to be found in those textual moments when it calls into question the very organising philosophy, the temporal force, of our era of globalisation. I argue that the works offer us a discursive and imaginative space from which to consider some of the economic implications of migrant life framed by global capitalism. Yet, this happens in a rather radical way when the writing enters the personal and tender zones of utterance, where the personal attributes interact with the juridical predispositions of migrancy. In doing this, significantly, the writing seems to suggest a deferral or diverting of the call of the ethnographic imperative which would have African migrant writing respond to all manner of calls that are put out, all of which seek to delimit and make recognisable so-called ‘African’ literature. The source of the call is quite specific, though it does not mean that it is singular. It therefore emerges that, as they pertain to African writing, our reading practices seem overdetermined by a curious predisposition, they seek to make individual voices intelligible according to a particular structure of recognition. This anticipated rubric, or the unique stage directions established for contemporary African writing, the narrowly conceived socio-political problems it is expected to address ahead of its arrival, has the effect of subsuming African writing into the logic of commodity markets. In their own ways, these texts seem to be answering a call for the capaciousness of African writing in content and form, where the challenge is to render art that is not eclipsed by the demands of group representation or the ethnographic imperative within the realm of world literature. These works thus seem to indicate a refusal to be interpellated by pre-established criteria about identiarian politics, while they activate our imagination towards globality. In the same breath, I consider the structural interpellation that forces writers to negotiate what I call the double bind of African migrant writing, two contradictory injunctions issued at the same time. This double bind, between the market’s demand for the ethnographic imperative (or something like (un)strategic ethnification) and the framing of the linguistic operation of globality as cultural globalization, may prove instructive for our approach to African migrant writing. True to the structure of a double bind, African migrant writers cannot ‘solve’ or escape the double bind of their positionality, they can only negotiate it. Thus, an important point of departure will be to highlight the discursive difference between, on the one hand, globalisation (the globalising protocols, processes and effects) and on the other hand, globality (the end state of globalisation). The hermeneutic value of the term globality lies in its simultaneous difference and sameness from the term globalisation, it mobilises the dialectic analogous to that which operates when we theorise different but complementary entities such as race and colour, sex and gender, class and poverty, citizen and nationality and so forth, now, globality and globalisation. In other words, the relation between globality and globalisation seems to inhabit a continuous space where globalisation stands for the processes and modes by which the ideological project of global markets, immigration and transcultural movement on a global scale, operates to conceal the force of capitalism, so that we think of globalisation as a quasi-natural phenomenon, about which little can be done. I suggest that prevailing literary approaches to African migrant writing will need to be supplemented by an ethical politics of reading, one that centres the status of globality. With such a reading practice, we may arrive at a new enunciatory register that captures the ontology of transnationalism beyond merely the anthropologies of ‘the immigrant experience’ of displacement or unbelonging and a critique of Euro-Americanism, so that the texts complicate our relationship to global capital at the same time as they throw the chaos of globality, and global capitalism, into sharp relief.

XHOSA: Kulo mqulu, ndicinga ngeempembelelo zezopolitiko ezicetyiswa ngumbono oyilahleko, kwimibhalo yabafundi bakutshanje baseAfrika kwixesha leencwadi kwihlabathi. Ndiphicotha iincwadi ezikhethiweyo zababhali base-Afrika abangasahlali kweli. Ngalo mbhalo, nento esoloko ichazwa zimalike zemibhalo yehlabathi, kukho imeko yehlabathi emayana ebonakalayo kwa nebonakala ngathi idlulile ekuchazeni iindlela zobume bemibhalo. Ngokulandela isikhokelo sikaPheng Cheah, ndixoxa ngelithi ababhali abangasahlali kweli lase-Afrika abachongiweyo, kukho intshukumo exhalabisayo, nekwinqanaba elithile elaziwa ngokuba yi-hermeneutic, iza kuthi ihlabathikazi lidala ilizwe. Ngenxa yoku, ndinomdla ngakumbi kwimeko equka iingxoxo yakwamoya, into esemoyeni ngaphezu kwebambekayo, ukubonakala konxibelelwano kwihlabathikazi, kwakunye nokucada imida yamazwe. Okubaluleke ngakumbi, olu ncwadi lumayana lelizwe lufumaneka kule mibhalo, apho lubuza khona ifilosofi equlunqiweyo, unyanzelo labumini, kumathuba apho ilizwe linxibelelana ngakumbi. Ndixoxa ukuba imisebenzi isinika inxaxheba ecacileyo kunye nendawo apho kufuneka sicinge ngeziphumo zoqoqosho zababhali abangasahlali e-Afrika ngokuphathelele kubukhapitali jikelele. Naxakunjalo, oku kwenzeka kwindlela engacengiyo xa ukubhala kungena kumanqanaba ahlukeneyo nokuthetha, apho iimpawu zobuqu zibandakanyeka nezigwebo zomthetho kubabhali abangasahlali e-Afrika. Ukwenza oku, ngokucacileyo, lo mbhalo uzama ukucebisa indlela eyahlukileyo nebiza kuhlobo lokuphanda elibizwa i-ethnography, eza kwenza ababhali abangasahlali e-Afrika baphendule kuzo zonke iinkalo ezivelayo, nezizama ukunciphisa kwaye zenze ukuba kubekho ababhali ababizwa ngokuba ngabase-Afrika. Umthombo wokuba babizwe ngoluhlobo untsokothile, nangona ungathethi ukuba uhamba wodwa. Ngoko ke oku kuthetha ukuba, xa bebizwa ngokuba ngababhali base-Afrika abangasahlali kweli lizwekazi, imikhwa yethu yokufunda icebisa ukuba oko kwenziwa ngokugqithisileyo kwiindawo esime kuzo, bazama ukwenza amazwi owodwa ukuba achubeke ngokwendlela ethile, neyayanyiswe ngokubizwa okuthile. Indlela aba babhali ababizwa ngayo yenza ukuba kunciphe ukujonga umsebenzi wabo, koko babonwa njengabo bajonga iingxaki zentlalontle nopolitiko, kananjalo kujongwa ukuba bona banohlobo oluthile ababhala ngalo, ezo ziziphumo ezibonakalisa ukuncipha ngokwendlela ababizwa ngayo nkqubo. Ngokwendlela yayo, le mibhalo ibonakala ukuba iphendula ukukrokreleka kokuba imibhalo yase-Afrika iqulathe imingeni ebonisa isakhono esikuxinezelelo lokuba amaqela afunda le mibhalo andawoni kwimimango yokubhalwa koncwadi. Le mibhalo kungoko izama ukubonisa ukungafuni ukuba ababhali bachazwe ngendlela esekwe ngaphambili ebabonisa ukuba bajonge icala elithile lezopolitiko, nangona bethatha iingcamango zethu bazise kumazwe ahlukeneyo. Okuqhagamishelana noko, ndiphakamisa ubume obuchazwa njengobunyanzela ababhali bakhangele into abangayaziyo kuba kusithiwa ngabase-Afrika, apha kukho iinkalo ezimbini ekufuneka zijongwe ngaxeshanye. Le mbophelelo intlandlo-mbini, ephakathi kwabashishini ngokwe-ethnography (okanye into ebizwa (un)strategic ethnification) nokwakhiwa kolwimi olusebenza jikelele kwilizwe lonke njengenkcubeko, kungabonakalisa ulutho kwindlela esijonga ngayo ababhali base-Afrika abangekho kweli lizwekazi. Okusenyanisweni kobu bume bembophelelo entlandlo-mbini, ababhali abangasahlali e-Afrika abanakho ukusombulula iingxaki ngemibhalo yabo, basebenza pantsi kwento eyabekwa kudala nebenza bangakwazi ukuveza iimbono zabo. Kungoko kubalulekile njengendlela yokuya phambili, kuxelwe indlela ekunokucetywa ngayo ezinkalo zahlukileyo, okokuqala, ubuzwekazi (indlela ilizwekazi elilandela ngayo iimeko, ukwenza kunye neziphumo) kananjalo kwelinye inqanaba, ukuphela kobuzwekazi (ukuphelisa unxibelelwano phakathi kwamazwe ehlabathi). Eyona njongo nefuthe le gama elithetha ngobuzwekazi, bulele kwindlela ezimbini iyantlukwano nobunye obusuka kweli gama lithetha ukuthi amazwekazi ehlabathi. Iququzelela iimeko apho kusetyenziswa ubunye nekuthi xa sisakha iithiyori kuze iinkalo ezahlukileyo kodwa ziqukwe zifana, nobuhlanga kunye nebala, ubuni, ukungalingani, kunye nendlala, ubumi, kunye nobumi ngokwelizwe njalo njalo, ngoku zibonwa nje ngelizwekazi. Ngamanye amagama, unxibelelwano phakathi kobuzwekazi namazwe ehlabathi kubonakala kuvalela isithuba esiqhubekayo apho ubuzwekazi bumele iinkqubo kunye neendlela apho iimbono zamazwe emalike zehlabathi, iimfuduko nokudibanisa iinkcubeko ezahlukeneyo kwilize jikelele, kusebenze ngenjongo yokuvingca ubukhapitali, ukuze sicinge ngobuzwekazi njengento edaliweyo nekufanele ukuba yenzeke, nalapho kukuncinane ekunokwenzeka. Ngokufunda okunjalo, kungenzeka sifike kwindlela yerejista engabonakaliyo entsha, nethatha kwi-ontology yeengunqu zelizwe ngaphezu kwezinto ezinziwa ngababhali, nokubekela kude okanye ukungafikeleli kunye nokuhlaba amadlala kumazwe asemantla/ entshona, ukuze imibhalo icele imingeni kunxibelelwano lwethi nobukhapitali kumazwe ehlabathi ngaxeshanye babe besenza ukuba kungabikho lawuleko kubuzwe, nobukhapitali bamazwe ehlabathi.

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