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Interrogating Blackness, Locating ‘Africanness’: Call-and-Response in the (literary) works of Toni Morrison and Zoë Wicomb, NoViolet Bulawayo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Taiye Selasi

This project offers a fresh, comparative, transatlantic and transnational analysis of leading African-American author, Toni Morrison’s, work on blackness through the diasporic lens of contemporary female writers of the African diaspora, Zoë Wicomb, NoViolet Bulawayo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Taiye Selasi. The project explores how a selection of their texts speak (back) to, in order to rewrite, Morrison’s claims on race through an ‘Africanness’ that takes into account cultural- and context-specific, complexly globalised configurations of contemporary black subjectivities. Showing how their literature ‘Signifies’ upon an African- American metanarrative of blackness through an intertextual relation with, and formal revision of, her work, this project deploys the literary and culturally specific dialogic calland- response mode as its structural premise in order to suggest the stimulating ways that Morrison’s concerns around blackness are being critiqued to reflect nuanced and sophisticated, mediated and mutable, versions of African subjectivity, especially with regard to (intersectional) black female subjectivities. In this way, the project aims to offer a fresh perspective on Morrison’s work while significantly realigning contemporary African ideologies and materialities for more inclusive and expansive global visions of blackness.


Fellows involved in this project

Iso Lomso Fellow
South Africa

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Related publications

Journal Article

Phiri, Aretha. 2023. Reframing the Black Atlantic. Cultural Studies, 37(2), 191–203.

Journal Article

Phiri, Aretha. 2020. The race for reparation(s), the (im)possibility of repair in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull. Safundi, 21(1), 69–84.

Book/Book Chapter

Phiri, Aretha. 2020. Fingering the Jagged Grain: Rereading Afropolitanism (and Africa) in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go. In James Hodapp (Ed.), Afropolitan Literature as World Literature (1st ed.). Bloomsbury.

Book/Book Chapter

Phiri, Aretha. 2019. Lost in translation: re-reading the contemporary Afrodiasporic condition in Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go. In Emilia María Durán-Almarza, Ananya Jahanara Kabir and Carla Rodriguez González (Eds.), Debating the Afropolitan (1st ed.). Routledge.


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