Intra- and inter-continental migrations and diaspora in contemporary African fiction

Moudouma Moudouma, Sydoine (2013-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The focus of this dissertation is the examination of the relationship between space and identity in recent narratives of migration, in contemporary African literature. Migrant narratives suggest that there is a correlation between identity formation and the types of boundaries and borders migrants engage with in their various attempts to find new homes away from their old ones. Be it voluntary or involuntary, the process of migrating from a familial place transforms the individual who has to negotiate new social formations; and tensions often accrue from the confrontation between one’s culture and the culture of the receiving society. Return migration to the supposed country of origin is an equally important trajectory dealt with in African migrant literature. The reverse narrative stipulates similar tensions between one’s diasporic culture – the culture of the diasporic space – and the culture of the homeland. Thus, intra- and inter-continental migrations and diaspora is a bifurcated inquiry that examines both outward and return migrations. These movements reveal the ways in which Africans make sense of their Africanity and their place in the world. The concepts of “border”, “boundary” and “borderland” are useful to examine notions of difference and separation both within the nation-state and in relation to transnational, intra-African as well as inter-continental exchanges. I focus more fully on these notions in the texts that examine migrations within Africa, both outward and return movements. This study is not only interested in the physical features of borders, boundaries or borderlands, but also on their consequences for the processes of identity formation and translation, and how they can help to reveal the social and historical characteristics of diasporic formations. What undergirds much of the analysis is the assumption that the negotiation of belonging and space cannot be separated from the crossing or breaching of borders and boundaries; and that these negotiations entail attempts to enter the borderland, which is a zone of exchange, crisscrossing networks, dissolution of notions of singularity and exclusive identities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die fokus van hierdie proefskrif is ‘n ondersoek na die verhouding tussen ruimte en identiteit in onlangse migrasie-narratiewe in kontemporêre Afrika-literatuur. Migrasienarratiewe dui op ’n korrelasie tussen identiteitsvorming en die soorte skeidings en grense waarmee migrante gemoeid raak in hulle onderskeie pogings om nuwe tuistes weg van die oues te vind. Hetsy willekeurig of gedwonge, die migrasieproses weg van ’n familiale plek verander die individu wat nuwe sosiale formasies moet oorkom, en spanning neem dikwels toe weens die konfrontasie tussen die eie kultuur en dié van die ontvangersamelewing. Migrasie terug na die sogenaamde land van herkoms is net so ’n belangrike onderwerp in Afrika-migrasieliteratuur. Die terugkeernarratief stipuleer dat daar ooreenkomstige spanning heers tussen ’n persoon se diasporiese kultuur – die kultuur van die diaspora-ruimte – en die kultuur van die land van oorsprong. Die ondersoek na intra- en interkontinentale migrasies en diasporas is dus ’n tweeledige proses wat uitwaartse sowel as terugkerende migrasies beskou. Hierdie bewegings openbaar die ware maniere waarop Afrikane sin maak uit hulle Afrikaniteit en hulle plek in die wêreld. Die konsepte van “grens”, “grenslyn” en “grensgebied” is nuttig wanneer die begrippe van verskil en verwydering ondersoek word binne die nasiestaat asook in verhouding tot transnasionale, intra-Afrika en interkontinentale wisseling. Ek fokus meer volledig op hierdie begrippe in die tekste wat ondersoek instel na migrasie binne Afrika, beide uitwaartse en terugkerende bewegings. Hierdie studie gaan nie net oor die fisiese kenmerke van grense, grenslyne en grensgebiede nie, maar bestudeer ook die gevolge daarvan op die prosesse van identiteitsvorming en vertaling, en die manier waarop hulle kan help om die sosiale en historiese eienskappe van diasporiese formasies te openbaar. ’n Groot deel van die analise word ondersteun deur die aanname dat die onderhandeling tussen tuishoort en ruimte nie geskei kan word van die oorsteek of deurbreek van grense en grenslyne nie, en dat hierdie onderhandelinge lei tot pogings om die grensgebied te betree, waar die grensgebied gekenmerk word deur wisseling, kruising van netwerke en die verwording van begrippe soos sonderlingheid en eksklusiewe identiteite.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80117
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