Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Challenging Universalism: Chinua Achebe's Re-Worlding Africa

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Challenging Universalism: Chinua Achebe's Re-Worlding Africa

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present paper provides an overview of the nature and inherent assumption of universalism in literature and explicates the reasons why it and its usual signifiers have been incongruous with some of the most powerful literary movements such as Post-colonialism, Feminism, Marxism, and Post-modernism. These theorists argue that the term has a subjugating influence on the marginalized people and has carried an arbitrary significance. The paper has also highlighted the anxieties of the theorists regarding the pitfalls they might face if their own readings emerge as new metanarratives. The study has subsequently narrowed its focus on the oppositional narratives of major postcolonial critics demonstrating the reasons why it is an indispensable task to 're-world' the postcolonial territories to map out a way offthe self-denigration and the selfabasement of the postcolonial societies. The paper, most importantly, had tried to demonstrate how Chinua Achebe, drawing both from his critical and creative writings, attempted in (re)presenting Africa's past and re-worlding Africa's socio-cultural identities based on their latent traditional power and wisdom albeit in the international literary-critical scholarship. The key postcolonial issues, for instance, history, language, the role of women, otherness, multiculturalism and African dynamism in Achebe's writings, have provided the undercurrent for this study.

Key words: Africa; Chinua Achebe; Decolonization; Post-colonialism; Re-worlding; Universalism

INTRODUCTION

The study begins with a brief review of universalism and its diverse implications in the marginalized peoples and literatures. As a part of the literature review, the paper then identifies how the concept of universalism has been received in the various literary theories over a period with special reference to Marxism, Feminism, Post-modernism and Post-colonialism. The article then narrows its area of research into the postcolonial literature. To shed light on the implications of accepting western universalism in postcolonial cultures and societies, the article had reviewed the standpoints of Franz Fanon, Edward Said and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak before embarking on an intensive study on Achebe's creative and critical works to identify his poetics and practice of reworlding Africa. In doing so, some of the major postcolonial issues, for instance, history, language, the role of women, otherness, multiculturalism and African dynamism in Achebe's writings, have provided the undercurrent for this study.

Methods: This research explicates Achebe's attitudes and attempts in creating a cultural space for Africa in the twentieth century intellectual readership by opposing the parameters of the universalism that negates Africa. It also focuses on how Achebe initiates to re-world Africa to foreground its distinctive identity and culture. For that, it has explored both his critical and creative writings. To analyze the complex criss-crossings of diverse sociocultural issues, an interdisciplinary method of research- to use the modern critical research terminological jargon-has been used. The advantage of this method in this research is that it helps me interpret the deep resonances of various colonial issues on each other and their diverse after effects in the postcolonial societies without any constraints.

1. CHALLENGING THE UNIVERSALISM

1.1 Nature and Assumption of the Universalism

"Universalism" in literature implies that some literatures are great and assumed to be beyond commonly posed questions of authenticity, acceptability and applicability attaining a certain "universal" status for all time and people. This trend had received a new significance after the invention of the printing machine. It quickly gave birth to national literatures in Europe thereby creating a wider readership. With the spread of colonization, literatures of European countries alongside got circulated across the world. …

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