Date of Award

4-30-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Luiza Moreira

Abstract

This dissertation analyzes the story of the African woman migration from a generational perspective. It discusses Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter (1979) as the foundation of the African woman’s migration story and the evolvement in the female identity construction. It then uses Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah as a new, yet different and more contemporary approach to the same subject. In other words, this dissertation explores how the contemporary approach to storytelling and identity construction has changed the African woman’s migration story and her identity construction since Mariama Bâ dealt with them nearly forty (40) years ago. It analyzes the techniques that Bâ and Adichie utilize in constructing their diasporic characters’ identities and establishes that these techniques evolve yet carry a trend of constructive radicalism in their identity constructions. The dissertation specifies that the notion of radicalism should be revisited in African discourse, and especially in African feminist discourse. It argues that Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter and Adichie’s Americanah exhibit an African contextualized radical approach to gender, race/ethnicity, and class issues that are oppressive to women, and to society at large. This idea of constructive radicalism constitutes along with the African female migrant story, the building block of this dissertation and fills a gap in African feminist discourse. The dissertation establishes that the African constructive radical feminist pulls from tradition, modernity, and her personal judgment to make her choices in her identity construction and self-assertiveness. Thus, it analyzes and discusses tradition, modernity, and culture, and engages with the changes occurred in the construction of the African female migrant’s gender, class, ethnic and racial identity from the twentieth to the twenty-first century—specifically from So Long a Letter (1979) to Americanah (2013).

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