Narrating the (Im)Migrant Experience: 21st Century African Fiction in the Age of Globalization
Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
College of Arts and Sciences
This study examines the fiction of 21st century African writers as a product of engagement with the forces of globalization and the related notions of cosmopolitanism and the fact of South to North migration. Analyzing migrant experiences in the writings of Chris Abani’s Becoming Abigail (2007), Chika Unigwe’s The Black Street Sisters (2009), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2011) and Teju Cole’s Open City (2013), I argue that third-generation African writers, while building on the works of previous generations, take a global turn, and in the process, push the borders of African literature beyond the continent. 21st century African fiction, I argue, converses with, complicates, and contextualizes complimentary claims that globalization enhances cosmopolitan ideals, promotes racial diversity and preserves human dignity. These mainly migrant literatures written by Africans who transit between the continent and the West reveal an emerging new face of contemporary 21st century African literature, indicating a transition from a previous preoccupation with parochial and national issues to narrating often dystopian experiences of African migrants to the West, a situation made possible primarily by the forces and processes of globalization. My dissertation focuses on the fiction of Third African Generation writers in order to show the ways in which their works enrich postcolonial theoretical discourse by navigating the complexity that describes African fiction’s imbrication in World Literature through the experiences of migrants. Through the prism of African migrant experiences, global issues like cosmopolitanism, racism and human trafficking are viewed and analyzed with the aim of illustrating the promises and failures of globalization. I offer an overview of globalization theory, marking out what Simon Gikandi calls “the dystopic version” of globalization as the form that contemporary African diasporic fiction engages with and questions. I conclude that the form of globalization that impacts many African countries still adheres to colonialist North-South hierarchies, ensuring the preservation of neocolonial center-periphery existences.
Oniwe, B. A.(2017). Narrating the (Im)Migrant Experience: 21st Century African Fiction in the Age of Globalization. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/4524