Frictions of Memory in Postcolonial Africa
Investigates the ways in which postcolonial African fiction deals with or, in some cases, becomes the source of memory friction
In Continuous Pasts, author Sakiru Adebayo claims that the post-conflict fiction of memory in Africa depicts the intricate ways in which the past is etched on bodies and topographies, resonant in silences and memorials, and continuous even in experiences as well as structures of migration. Adebayo argues that the post-conflict fiction of memory in Africa invites critical deliberations on the continuity of the past within the realm of positionality and the domain of subjectivity—that is to say, the past is not merely present; instead, it survives, lives on, and is mediated through the subject positions of victims, perpetrators, as well as secondary and transgenerational witnesses. The book also argues that post-conflict fiction of memory in Africa shows the unfinished business of the past produces fragile regimes of peace and asynchronous temporalities that challenge progressive historicism. It contends that, in most cases in Africa, the post-conflict present is beset with a tight political economy wherein the scramble for survival trumps the ability to imagine a just future among survivors—and that it is precisely this despairing disposition toward the future that some writers of post-conflict fiction attempt to confront in their works. On the whole, Continuous Pasts shows how post-conflict fictions of memory in Africa recalibrate discourses of futurity, solidarity, responsibility, justice, survival, and reconciliation. It also contends that post-conflict fictions of memory in Africa provide the tools for imagining and theorizing a collective African memory. Each text analyzed in the book provides, in very interesting ways, an imaginative possibility and template for how post-independence African countries can ‘remember together’ using what the author describes as an African transnational memory framework.
Sakiru Adebayo is Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of British Columbia.
Praise / Awards
“Continuous Pasts offers a much-needed Africa-centered contribution to memory and trauma studies from a literary perspective, and Adebayo is just the scholar to make such a contribution. As the book reveals, he has a near encyclopedic knowledge of recent approaches to trauma and memory as well as a broad knowledge of African literature, history, culture, and criticism. This is the book we’ve been waiting for!”
—Michael Rothberg, author of The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators
Winner: 2022 Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism
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