“Confidently traversing a vast territory and deftly combining sociolinguistics with postcolonial theory.... Highly recommended.”
“Mazrui provides a fascinating, clear and insightful account of the development of Swahili literature, and the continually shifting hybridity that is such an essential component of its boundaries.”
African Studies Quarterly
“Erudite and lucidly written, Swahili beyond Borders is no doubt an outstanding contribution to the study of African literatures and languages in general, and Swahili studies in particular.”
Canadian Journal of African Studies
“Mazrui challenges the longstanding claim of Swahili identity as dependent on ethnicity and historical specificity; instead, he shows the hybrid, multicultural, and transnational nature of Swahili identity.”
African Studies Review
Africa is a marriage of cultures: African and Asian, Islamic and Euro-Christian. Nowhere is this fusion more evident than in the formation of Swahili, Eastern Africa’s lingua franca, and its cultures. Swahili beyond the Boundaries: Literature, Language, and Identity addresses the moving frontiers of Swahili literature under the impetus of new waves of globalization in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These momentous changes have generated much theoretical debate on several literary fronts, as Swahili literature continues to undergo transformation in the mill of human creativity.
Swahili literature is a hybrid that is being reconfigured by a conjuncture of global and local forces. As the interweaving of elements of the colonizer and the colonized, this hybrid formation provides a representation of cultural difference that is said to constitute a “third space,” blurring existing boundaries and calling into question established identitarian categorizations. This cultural dialectic is clearly evident in the Swahili literary experience as it has evolved in the crucible of the politics of African cultural production.
However, Swahili beyond the Boundaries demonstrates that, from the point of view of Swahili literature, while hybridity evokes endless openness on questions of home and identity, it can simultaneously put closure on specific forms of subjectivity. In the process of this contestation, a new synthesis may be emerging that is poised to subject Swahili literature to new kinds of challenges in the politics of identity, compounded by the dynamics and counterdynamics of post–Cold War globalization.
Alamin Mazrui is a professor in the Department of African American Studies at the Ohio State University and visiting professor in the department of Africana Studies at Rutgers University. He is the coauthor of Swahili, State and Society: The Political Economy of an African Language, The Power of Babel: Language and Governance in the African Experience, and The Swahili: Idiom and Identity. More info →
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Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart provided the impetus for the foundation of Heinemann’s African Writers Series in 1962 with Achebe as the editorial adviser. Africa Writes Back presents portraits of the leading characters and the many consultants and readers providing reports and advice to new and established writers.
This book draws together contributions from literary studies, anthropology, ethnomusicology, and African language studies to analyze the complex functioning of oral texts and models in differing contexts. It examines the continuing role of orality in modern society, the adaptation of oral models to printed forms, and the ability of oral forms to ‘talk back’ to the technology of print.Subjects
Kiswahili has become the lingua franca of eastern Africa. Yet there can be few historic peoples whose identity is as elusive as that of the Swahili. Some have described themselves as Arabs, as Persians or even, in one place, as Portuguese. It is doubtful whether, even today, most of the people about whom this book is written would unhesitatingly and in all contexts accept the name Swahili.This book was central to the thought and lifework of the late James de Vere Allen.
Transgressing Boundaries includes some of the most interesting debates informing cultural politics in South Africa today. To do so, it brings together renowned contributors from Africa, North America and the United Kingdom.The book questions the boundaries between the academic disciplines by incorporating literary studies with anthropology, history, archaeology, art and gender studies.
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