New Homes and New Names: The African Migrant Novelin the Digital Age
In this thesis, I attempt to explore the development of migrant literature in an era of digitalcommunication. The latest developments in communication technology have certainlydestabilized patterns of content creation and dissemination. While many use it uncritically,mostly as a means of information and keeping in contact, there are new avenues open forthose who wish to engage actively and create a space for new dialogue. And though theseonline platforms have not completely overturned hierarchies between literatures from theWest versus the global South, they have certainly altered both the content and form of workoriginating from African countries. By doing so, digital technology has boosted the creationof an African identity that moves away from victimhood by reimagining ideas of what itmeans to be and write from an African perspective where a multiplicity and hybridity ofvoices exist. I have chosen three “digital migrant novels” (Caren Irr’s term): ChimamandaNgozi Adichihe’s Americanah, NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, and Open Cityby Teju Cole. I begin by situating these novels in a technologically sophisticated, mediaoriented space, where the geography of nations is challenged by overlapping spaces of digitalcommunication. My aim is threefold – to identify new patterns in migrant identity and to seehow they are affected by technology use; to see whether these patterns correspond to theemergence of an Afropolitan identity (and to understand what permutations this Afropolitanidentity can take on). And and finally, to analyse how digital media communication shapes amigrant’s relationship to homeland and language.
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