Literary networks and the making of 21st century African literature in English: Kwani Trust, Farafina, Cassava Republic Press and the production of cultural memory

Haines, Katherine Jane (2017) Literary networks and the making of 21st century African literature in English: Kwani Trust, Farafina, Cassava Republic Press and the production of cultural memory. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the literary production of three publishers based on the African continent established shortly after the turn of the millennium - Nairobi-based Kwani Trust, Lagos-based Kachifo and Abuja-based Cassava Republic Press. It asks how these three contemporary and connected literary institutions, and the writers associated with them, have opened up new spaces and forms for the production of cultural memory and for African literature in English.
The first part of the study offers close readings of texts by writers including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sefi Atta, Helon Habila, Parselelo Kantai and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, foregrounding the different ways in which these give literary form to memory and geography. I highlight a particular preoccupation with historiography in the editorial agenda of Kwani Trust. Reading contemporary novels published by Farafina and Cassava Republic Press through the work of Achille Mbembe, I characterize these as opening up new forms for imagining space.
The argument that stretches across the thesis is that Kwani Trust, Kachifo’s Farafina imprint and Cassava Republic Press have opened up new spaces and forms for cultural production by making memory, geography and literature material. Drawing on in-depth interviews, the second part of the study analyses the digital and physical exchanges, as well as the medium, through which these literary texts have been created, produced and validated. I argue for a particular connection between the dynamics of materiality as relating to physical form, and materiality as relating to cultural value. With chapters focused on the medium of print, and on the relationships revealed by particular literary events located in Nairobi and Lagos, I demonstrate the significance of these publishing companies in establishing the foundations of a pan-African literary network which has nurtured and brought cultural value to some of the leading voices in twenty-first century African writing in English published from London or New York, as well as inspiring and validating new literary institutions on the continent. Through this, I make a case that literary studies requires new models that better account for the global cultural flows and multiple sites of value that this study makes visible, redefining Casanova’s Eurocentric conception of ‘world literary space’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR9080 English literature outside of Great Britain. Including present and former British colonies and dependencies except the United States > PR9340 Africa
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 03 May 2017 14:42
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2019 10:24
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/67649

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