Discourses of poverty in literature : assessing representations of indigence in post-colonial texts from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe

Butale, Phenyo (2015-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis undertakes a comparative reading of post-colonial literature written in English in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to bring into focus the similarities and differences between fictional representations of poverty in these three countries. The thesis explores the unique way in which literature may contribute to the better understanding of poverty, a field that has hitherto been largely dominated by scholarship that relies on quantitative analysis as opposed to qualitative approaches. The thesis seeks to use examples from selected texts to illustrate that (as many social scientists have argued before) literature provides insights into the ‘lived realities’ of the poor and that with its vividly imagined specificities it illuminates the broad generalisations about poverty established in other (data-gathering) disciplines. Selected texts from the three countries destabilise the usual categories of gender, race and class which are often utilised in quantitative studies of poverty and by so doing show that experiences of poverty cut across and intersect all of these spheres and the experiences differ from one person to another regardless of which category they may fall within. The three main chapters focus primarily on local indigence as depicted by texts from the three countries. The selection of texts in the chapters follows a thematic approach and texts are discussed by means of selective focus on the ways in which they address the theme of poverty. Using three main theorists – Maria Pia Lara, Njabulo Ndebele and Amartya Sen – the thesis focuses centrally on how writers use varying literary devices and techniques to provide moving depictions of poverty that show rather than tell the reader of the unique experiences that different characters and different communities have of deprivation and shortage of basic needs.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis onderneem ‘n vergelykende studie van post-koloniale letterkunde in Engels uit Botswana, Namibië en Zimbabwe, om sodoende die ooreenstemmings en verskille tussen letterkundige uitbeeldings van armoede in hierdie drie lande aan die lig te bring. Die tesis ondersoek die unieke manier waarop letterkunde kan bydra tot ‘n beter begrip van armoede, ‘n studieveld wat tot huidiglik grotendeels op kwantitatiewe analises berus, in teenstelling met kwalitatiewe benaderings. Die tesis se werkswyse gebruik voorbeelde uit gelekteerde tekste met die doel om te illustreer (soos verskeie sosiaal-wetenskaplikes reeds aangevoer het) dat letterkunde insig voorsien in die lewenservarings van armoediges en dat dit die breë veralgemenings aangaande armoede in ander (data-gebaseerde) wetenskappe kan illumineer. Geselekteerde tekste uit die drie lande destabiliseer die gewone kategorieë van gender, ras en klas wat normaaalweg gebruik word in kwantitatiewe studies van armoede, om sodoende aan te toon dat die ervaring van armoede dwarsdeur hierdie klassifikasies sny en dat hierdie tipe lewenservaring verskil van persoon tot persoon ongeag in watter kategorie hulle geplaas word. Die drie sentrale hoofstukke fokus primêr op lokale armoede soos uitgebeeld in tekste vanuit die drie lande. Die seleksie van tekste in die hoofstukke volg ‘n tematiese patroon en tekste word geanaliseer na aanleiding van ‘n selektiewe fokus op die maniere waarop hulle armoede uitbeeld. Deur gebruik te maak van ‘ die teorieë van Maria Pia Lara, Njabulo Ndebele en Amartya Sen, fokus hierdie tesis sentraal op hoe skrywers verskeie literêre metodes en tegnieke aanwend ten einde ontroerende uitbeeldings van armoede te skep wat die leser wys liewer as om hom/haar slegs te vertel aangaande die unieke ervarings wat verskillende karakters en gemeenskappe het van ontbering en die tekort aan basiese behoefte-voorsiening.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96749
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