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Sara Hanaburgh & Bhakti Shringarpure
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ACLA 2009 (Hosted by Harvard University)
"Global Languages, Local Cultures"
March 26-29, 2009
Cambridge, MA

“Enclaves/Exclaves”: The Globalized African City

Sara Hanaburgh & Bhakti Shringarpure
City University of New York – The Graduate Center
Euphoric discourses of globalization have managed to conceal realities of
abject poverty and under-development. The African city, in particular, has
become a site of acute paradox; on the one hand its astronomical expansion
represents growth and progress, while on the other it remains a place of
gross economic disparity, poverty, sickness, violence and segregation. More
than any other social text, African postcolonial novels capture these
paradoxes and complexities from multiple angles. For instance, in a
portrayal of Ken Bugul’s Dakar or in Mongo Beti’s Yaounde, the satirical
style foregrounds neocolonial ideologies that privilege class differences
and social disparities. Nuruddin Farah’s Mogadishu and Emmanuel Dongala’s
Brazzaville, on the other hand, are cities ravaged by war. From a different
perspective, Abdelwahab Meddeb experiences his native Tunis as a
melancholic flaneur, all the while representing the phantasmagoria of the
Arab medina. In what way does the postcolonial city mirror the colonial
structures of spatial apartheid? Do African novelists render the urban
space as liminal in order to negotiate the global and local spaces of a
complex continent? We would like to propose innovative readings of
postcolonial African cities through contemporary novels. Topics may include
violence and the African city, representations of segregation, urban
identities versus national identities, urban spaces of resistance,
conceptualizing the rural and the tensions between global forces and
everyday life. We encourage incisive critiques of globalization and its
specific impact on cities of today as formulated by African novels.

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Received on Wed Sep 24 2008 - 18:35:13 EDT

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