African Identities: Race, Nation and Culture in Ethnography, by Kadiatu Kanneh

By Kadiatu Kanneh

This attention-grabbing and good researched research explores the which means generated through `Africa' and `Blackness' during the century. utilizing literary texts, autobiography, ethnography, and historic records, African Identities discusses how rules of Africa as an foundation, as a cultural complete, or as a classy political complex, end up signifiers for research of modernity, nationhood and racial distinction. Kanneh presents unique readings of quite a number literary texts, together with novels by means of: * Toni Morrison * Alice Walker * Gloria Naylor * Ngugi Wa Thiong'o * Chinua Achebe * and V.S. Naipaul. For somebody drawn to literature, background, anthropology, political writing, feminist or cultural research, this ebook opens up new parts of proposal throughout disciplines.

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Thought’ moves from immediacy to history in a way which changes the interaction of father and son. Samba’s insistence on controlling the written exchange with his father through the supervision of his gaze allows a temporal distantiation between the two which, similar to an ethnographic scene, is manipulated by the projection of watcher and writer. Writing operates as a ‘tool’ which separates the moment of writing from its destination. Here, before Samba’s move to Paris, physical proximity and temporal dislocation are allowed to experimentally overlap.

Only, the artifice has grown stronger with time, covering up what is of nature. (pp. 152–3) This emphasis on ‘artifice’ points to the historical problem which haunts the novel. Unable to determine the meaning or constitution of ‘African difference’ 34 TH E M EAN I NG OF AF RICA outside the predicates of French colonial interest, the idea of antagonism and opposition can only operate within the predicates of French modernity. ’55 Samba increasingly analyses himself and his position in the world with reference to the different philosophical underpinnings of French modernity.

The written text is readable as a metaphor for the object it represents—the encoded body, the native culture, the past. However, this readability is an illusion of its own making. Historical and ethnographic writing simply re-orders the scraps and tatters of other textual references to create a supposedly adequate object beyond the text, which is retrospectively and remotely awarded an intelligible sequence and order: History is developed in the continuity of signs left by scriptural activities: it is satisfied with arranging them, composing a single text from the thousands of written fragments in which already expressed is that labor which constructs time, which creates consciousness of time through self-reflection.

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