From Afropea to the Afro-Atlantic: A study of four novels by Léonora Miano and Fatou Diome
AuthorMackay, Charlotte Grace
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2023-06-28.
Completed under a Cotutelle arrangement between the University of Melbourne and La Sorbonne University, Paris IV
© 2019 Charlotte Grace Mackay
Recent research in the field of Francophone African literature has suggested that contemporary Sub-Saharan authors living and writing in Europe present in their works a fundamentally devalorising image of their continent of origin. This is said to be reflective of their inherently negative rapport with their Africanicity, a degraded collective identitarian perception that finds its roots in the French colonial project South of the Sahara. Other scholars have argued that Africa no longer features, as it did in the works of previous generations of Sub-Saharan authors, as an important reference point for contemporary African authors who have turned their literary attention towards their own individual lives and to those of other African migrants in Europe. These writers are, according to some, relatively disinterested in their continent of origin and in the people who live there. This thesis considers the textual representation of the African continent and Africanicity in the novels of two contemporary Sub-Saharan authors writing in French on Africa from Europe – Leonora Miano from Cameroon and Fatou Diome from Senegal. Although these two authors are readily making names for themselves in the French and African literary scenes, they remain less studied in academia than many Francophone African male writers and other Francophone African women writers who have been writing for longer. The study seeks to determine whether Diome and Miano present in their texts a devalorising image of Sub-Saharan Africa and Africanicity more broadly or, conversely, whether there is evidence in their fiction of a commitment to a project of collective Afro-identitarian revalorisation. This study demonstrates a marked evolution across four novels by Miano and Diome through the theoretical concept of Afro-diasporic consciousness informed and developed upon by theory drawn from postcolonial, diaspora and feminist literary studies. It comparatively analyses Diome’s Le Ventre de l’Atlantique (2003) and Miano’s L’interieur de la nuit (2005) followed by Diome’s Celles qui attendent (2010) and Miano’s Les aubes ecarlates: Sankofa cry (2009) to reveal the authors’ increasingly ardent commitment to rehabilitating and revalorising contemporary Africanicity through fiction. This revalorisation is shown to be dependent on movement beyond the bounds of binary and colonially-referential Afropea and towards transnational engagement with Africa’s Black Atlantic diaspora. The study ultimately suggests that Africa remains very much present in the literary and affective sensibilities of Miano and Diome.
KeywordsLéonora Miano; Fatou Diome; Sub-Saharan francophone fiction; Afropea; Black Atlantic; Afro-diasporic consciousness
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