English - Free topic 15: Afropolitanism and Afropolitan Literature

Course content

A quick Google search will demonstrate that ‘Afropolitanism’ has become a trendy African variant of cosmopolitanism and that to be ‘Afropolitan’ in a global world of increased mobility and flow is associated with much hype and market interest. An ambivalent restlessness is associated with the elusive Afropolitan who is featured as a high-profile globetrotter, always about to arrive, yet also most likely soon about to leave. To be Afropolitan is arguably an effect of globalisation, it is a floating and decentred position that calls for a complete reorientation of ideas about (black) culture and identity. As the ‘New Black’ of the contemporary cultural moment, the Afropolitan reaps recognition from the opportunities that come from the radical changes in patterns of mobility, demography, and cultural and social organisation that globalisation processes have brought about. But is that the full story? A more persistent Google search will uncover a slippage between trendy, eye-catching Afropolitan images and a significantly less enthusiastic concern that the current hype around everything ‘Afropolitan’ can easily come to obscure the continued struggles of most Africans to obtain their fair share of global mobility and material access. Does Afropolitanism sufficiently address the politics of power and the realities of continued global inequalities, disadvantage, and the exclusion of Africa and Africans, or is it reflective of an exclusive and privileged position that only few Africans can participate in? In this course, we take a point of departure in the current debate within cultural studies on Afropolitanism and, from there, move towards literature to explore how ‘Afropolitan’ novels provide far more subtle and complex ideas about what it means to be African and Afropolitan in today’s world. We will explore Afropolitanism as a specific way of being in the world (ontology) related to the experience of living transcultural lives (identity) and how this makes for specific tropes and styles of writing (aesthetics).

Provisional reading list: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2013); Taiye Selasi, Ghana Must Go (2013); Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Dust (2014); NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names (2013); a selection of short stories by Sefi Atta (at Absalon);  Eva Rask Knudsen and Ulla Rahbek, In Search of the Afropolitan (2016) and a selection of critical texts (at Absalon).

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 176,75
  • English
  • 204,75