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Rethinking Exile: The Imaginary of the Return in Caribbean and African Francophone Literature

Nikiema, Patoimbasba (2021) Rethinking Exile: The Imaginary of the Return in Caribbean and African Francophone Literature. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation explores the ways in which 20th-21st transnational writers from the Caribbean and Africa reimagine experiences of exile and diaspora in light of contemporary forms and routes of migration. Echoing the utopian visions of critics such as Achille Mbembe and Felwine Sarr, along with writers such as Alain Mabanckou, I argue that representations of the return in Caribbean and African literary texts offer new sociopolitical conceptualizations of exile that not only deconstruct older paradigms of loss and rupture, but also suggest the possibility of renewed participation of the diaspora and immigrants in their homelands. The imaginary of the return, therefore, provides a different intellectual and literary reflection of the postcolony in terms of mobility by illustrating a West-towards-South movement characterized by the return and active participation of African and Caribbean exiles in their homelands. Through close reading of four different texts–Khadi Hane’s Des Fourmis dans la bouche (2011), Malika Mokeddem’s L’Interdite (1993), Alain Mabanckou’s Les Cigognes sont immortelles (2018), and Dany Laferrière’s Pays sans chapeau (1996) –, this dissertation examines the peripheral existence of African and Caribbean diaspora as well as the political discourse around migration, belonging and integration that characterizes their presence in the West as a crucial moment that leads to the idea of alterity and return. The imaginary of the return holds that the experience acquired in exile is an adequate springboard for exiles to revisit their lands of origin as lands of possibilities. As such, exile is a constructive experience that translates into a sociopolitical participation in the return.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWalsh,
Committee MemberGermain,
Committee MemberMecchia,
Committee MemberNiang,
Date: 8 October 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 July 2021
Approval Date: 8 October 2021
Submission Date: 3 August 2021
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 231
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > French
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Exile, Return, Postcolonial, Homeland, Integration, Assimilation, Postcolonial situation, exilic experience, dislocation, cultural rehabilitation, reconnection, disconnection, trauma, liberation
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2021 20:16
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2023 05:15


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