Academic journal article ARIEL

Daddy's Girls?: Father-Daughter Relations and the Failures of the Postcolonial Nation-State in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus and Veronique Tadjo's Loin De Mon Pere

Academic journal article ARIEL

Daddy's Girls?: Father-Daughter Relations and the Failures of the Postcolonial Nation-State in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus and Veronique Tadjo's Loin De Mon Pere

Article excerpt

As Nana Wilson-Tagoe rightly observes, in the study of African literatures, paradigm shifts have often been conceived in diachronic terms: periodizations have been linked to political movements such as decolonization, postcolonial disillusionment, neocolonialism, and, more recently, globalization (4). According to Wilson-Tagoe, such temporal mappings may be "historically enlightening" but remain somewhat inadequate ways of understanding paradigm changes (4). Instead of these more traditional periodizations, Wilson-Tagoe suggests that a model focusing on "the locations from which writers speak and experiment with literary models" might be more useful in understanding the changing vistas of the African literary enterprise (4-5). These "locations" include the collapse of national projects, gender issues, transnational movement, HIV/AIDS, and experimentations with oral and written forms (5). Elsewhere, Dominic Thomas identifies similar issues among the emerging themes of twenty-first-century African writing and maintains that the transnationalism of these authors bears on the works' thematic by "challeng[ing] a restricted politics of location" and "incorporat[ing) an engagement with global issues" (227).

While these characterizations certainly hold true, the turn to transna-tionalism in the African literary field does not imply a lack of interest in issues that might more easily be classified as local and national. Indeed, despite the transnationalization of African literatures and the growing focus on themes of mobility and dislocation, writers with diasporic roots--such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Veronique Tadjo, discussed in this article--continue to address specific local and national conditions in their work. Indeed, this is the case for many exiled African writers; as Alain Mabanckou contends, Africa often "lies at the heart of the[ir] narrative[s]" (80). With respect to academic writing on African and postcolonial literatures in general, the visibility of local specificities, as Elleke Boehmer argues, may result from the fact that "postcolonial readings, more openly admitting their own internal contradictions, are more willing to allow the writers their differences, their poles of contention, as well as their similarities" (Colonial 252). Further, it can be argued that the binarisms between global/local and transnational/ national are reductive in the first place, as Francoise Lionnet and Shu-Mei Shih suggest: transnationalism, according to them, "can occur in national, local, or global spaces across different and multiple spatiali-ties and temporalities" (6). In a similar vein, Neil Lazarus, discussing the notion of cosmopolitanism, argues that an ethically defined cosmopolitanism should "underscore ... the local specificity of selfhoods and social logics registered by the literatures of global modernity" (121). In this sense, Lazarus argues, cosmopolitanisms should always be understood as local, with no necessary opposition between what is traditionally deemed local/national and what is considered global (134). The argument that Lazarus makes in stressing the specificity of the local is an important one, given that we are currently operating within a paradigm in which displacement is "the essential condition of modern subjectivity" (Gikandi, "Between Roots" 24) and in which the local equates with parochialism (32), as Simon Gikandi maintains in his article, which discusses what he sees as the in-built elitism of cosmopolitanism. Indeed, in order to see the non-elitist face of cosmopolitanism, it is important to understand it as an ethical attitude that is informed by an openness to a wider world while taking into consideration the specificity of the local. In an effort to save the notion of cosmopolitanism from accusations of elitism, Robert Spencer states that true cosmopolitanism is not only marked by virtues such as critical self-awareness, responsibility, and "sensitivity beyond one's immediate milieu" but also an acknowledgment of the political and material conditions that define the asymmetrical nature of the global world order (4). …

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