The movement between the historical, geographical and political locations visited in these chapters demonstrates the argument that theories of racial identity in late twentieth-century political narratives are vitally connected with and understood through an interdisciplinary and international crossing of borders. ‘Africa’ and its imagining in the literatures and debates during and after colonial domination continue to be a locus for theorising racial and cultural differences, for analysing Black identities and for exploring the relationships between race and sexuality. By uncovering often ‘hidden’ discursive and historical links between ‘African’ contexts and by interrogating the disciplines and historical narratives that have constructed Africa into a circulating textual object, I have revealed how significant these inquiries are for an understanding of feminist, nationalist and cultural debates in the late twentieth century.
My use of literary texts in these chapters is not meant to indicate a comprehensive survey of Black/African literatures, or to point towards an exhaustive range of texts, which could be analysed for the purposes of this argument. My reading of particular literatures discovers problems and effects that gesture towards wider concerns and which can be analysed through a range of similar texts. These analyses act as suggestive illustrations, or as methods of reading a corpus of literatures that are chronologically or thematically connected.
Using francophone texts and sources is intended as a way of further exploring important issues in anglophone sources. Frantz Fanon’s Algeria, for example, becomes apparent in Alice Walker’s Paris, and the relationships between Islam and African identity—evident in Freetown’s history and Blyden’s writings—are pertinently expressed in Kane’s novel, where racial ideas, drawn from the politics of Négritude, align historical allegiances with the present. The connections between the politics of Ngugi’s Kenya and Ousmane’s Senegal are salient and emphasise the relevance of French colonialist influences to those of Britain.
I focus more particularly on narrative prose, rather than, for example, poetry, in order to foreground the importance of historical writing, conscious-