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Dr Sydoine Moudouma-Moudouma

Home country: Gabon

Year of enrolment: 2010

Graduation date: March 2013

Department: English

Supervisor: Prof Tina Steiner

Dissertation title: Intra- and inter-continental migrations and diaspora in contemporary African fiction


Abstract:  The focus of this dissertation is the examination of the relationship between space and identity in recent narratives of migration, in contemporary African literature. Migrant narratives suggest that there is a correlation between identity formation and the types of boundaries and borders migrants engage with in their various attempts to find new homes away from their old ones. Be it voluntary or involuntary, the process of migrating from a familial place transforms the individual who has to negotiate new social formations; and tensions often accrue from the confrontation between one's culture and the culture of the receiving society. Return migration to the supposed country of origin is an equally important trajectory dealt with in African migrant literature. The reverse narrative stipulates similar tensions between one's diasporic culture – the culture of the diasporic space – and the culture of the homeland. Thus, intra- and inter-continental migrations and diaspora is a bifurcated inquiry that examines both outward and return migrations. These movements reveal the ways in which Africans make sense of their Africanity and their place in the world. The concepts of "border", "boundary" and "borderland" are useful to examine notions of difference and separation both within the nation-state and in relation to transnational, intra-African as well as inter-continental exchanges. I focus more fully on these notions in the texts that examine migrations within Africa, both outward and return movements. This study is not only interested in the physical features of borders, boundaries or borderlands, but also on their consequences for the processes of identity formation and translation, and how they can help to reveal the social and historical characteristics of diasporic formations. What undergirds much of the analysis is the assumption that the negotiation of belonging and space cannot be separated from the crossing or breaching of borders and boundaries; and that these negotiations entail attempts to enter the borderland, which is a zone of exchange, crisscrossing networks, dissolution of notions of singularity and exclusive identities.

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