Post-Colonial Reading Strategies and the Problem of Cultural Meaning in African/Black (1) Literary Discourse

By Fashina, Nelson O. | Journal of Pan African Studies, July 2008 | Go to article overview

Post-Colonial Reading Strategies and the Problem of Cultural Meaning in African/Black (1) Literary Discourse


Fashina, Nelson O., Journal of Pan African Studies


One of the greatest intellectual bugs in African Studies since the 1950s has been the nationalist search for African cultural, literary, social and political emancipation anchored on the quest for universal acceptance and recognition. There has been an artificial and human created perplexing cultural identity problem which has not only challenged intra-African studies but has also misunderstood the transformational cultural and semiotic codes that govern the production of African cultural continuities in the Diaspora. Arguably, the 1980s qualify as the golden age of African discourse emancipation when the decade is weighed on the balance of an ambiguous cultural appropriation and resistance to Euro-American models of literary interpretation (2). However, the 1990s till date has witnessed attempts at discourse cultural revivalism and redefinitions that are distilled from "the voiced and unvoiced stories and interpretations of African conditions before, during and after colonialism" (Parker and Starker, 1995:11).

The consciousness to create a code for African cultural interpretation informed the first International Congress of Negro Writers and Artists held in Paris in 1956 with focus on the "The Crisis in Negro Culture". Subsequent conferences and congresses of African-American writers and critics have examined the negative impact of writing or book-culture (literary theory and interpretation) on the drive for a black critical aesthetics (Fashina, 1997:11). Several cultural genetic factors foreground this sense of nationalism and pan-Africanist conciousness. Among them was the need to create a theory of Africanism and Blackness, which is distilled from the homogeneous pattern of emotive and mythical interpretations of values in contrast to the European induced images and conceptions of our universe. This is what Abiola Irele (1990:54) describes as "the organic aspect of African imagination" and what Fashina 1994:73) indicates as "the symbiotic aspect of African collective consciousness".

Quite against this strive for African nationalist consciousness in culture and literary studies is the European standard interpretation of African studies as mere mental construct than a researchable reality. A renowned French Sociologist, Professor Jean Copans, in a lecture entitled " African Studies on the Eve of the 21st century" (3) delivered at the Drappers Auditorium, Centre for African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria on April 12, 1999, reechoed the same old colonialist view about Africa, African cultural studies and the indigenization of cultural theories. He argues that:

... there is no such thing as an African society understood as a continental one. And, for Africans, the study of their own societies land culture has nothing specifically African to it. We do not call the study of French sociology French studies! But there is a French tradition of African Studies. And I have to recall it for it is quite different from the Anglo- American one. The multi-disciplinary tradition in itself is an interesting feature and it spells out a kind of hierarchy of social sciences. To conclude this review of traditions, we should ask ourselves if there is such a domain as African Studies (MS, p.1).

This critical onslaught on the domain of African Studies is, ironically, significant in many respects. First, the venue of the lecture was the Institute of African Studies in a benchmark African University. Professor Copan's submission is invariably tantamount to a plea for the closure of that renowned center for African studies and, perhaps, the immediate dismissal altogether, of the Professors and researchers of African Studies at the center. For Professor Copans, " there is no such thing as an African society understood as a continental one", and there is nothing that is African-specific in Africans' study of their own societies. He bases his argument partly on the dependence on Western theories and analytical models in Anthropology, Sociology, political Science, economics, Literature and other cultural studies. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Post-Colonial Reading Strategies and the Problem of Cultural Meaning in African/Black (1) Literary Discourse
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.