There are so many interesting topics I’d like to address in my final paper that I have a hard time picking one. So I can say that I’m still fairly undecided. Generally speaking, any issue related to self perception and representation among the native in the postcolony is interesting to me. For the paper I will probably settle for tackling the topic of immigration and the way in which several African novels shed light on the mechanisms underpinning such a phenomenon. I’m also interested in studying immigration as a direct or indirect byproduct of the colonial system.
I would like to explore, from a materialistic and economic point of view, social and psychological reasons that are and have been the driving force behind this phenomenon. What is the extent of the influence of, for instance, colonial propaganda in the past, and the currently crucial role played by the media in defining the perception both the native and the (ex/neo) colonist have of themselves and of the other, which in turn draws the formerly colonized to the “mère patrie”.
Moreover, what is it – beside economic reasons of course – that is so compelling that reason itself cannot stand in its way? What is it that makes reason yield to perception and feelings to the point of risking one’s life? A piece of the puzzle could be what Adichie calls choicelessness. A postcolonial choicelessness that would make a young woman from Nigeria endure all sorts of hardships in a foreign country –think of the sex scene with the coach – rather than living a rather modest but peaceful life at home like Ifemelu in Adichie’s Americanah. Is it the same choicelessness that urges hundreds of thousands of West African migrants to attempt crossing the Atlantic on frail boats to go to Europe via Spain as in Fatou Diome’s The Belly of the Atlantic?
The spell is so strong that even the middle class is not immune. In Americanah, Obinze’s dreams of the US and eventual illegal immigration to England are not even the product of an economically challenged background. In analyzing this issue, doing a close reading and occasionally relying on data from outside the realm of literature, I assume it will be interesting to contrast insight from both Francophone and Anglophone African novelists.
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