Transgressing boundaries: gender, identity, culture, and the ‘other’ in postcolonial women’s narratives in East Africa
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
Fictions written between 1939 and 2005 by indigenous and white (post)colonial women writers emerging from an African-European cultural experience form the focus of this study. Their voyages into the European diasporic space in Africa are important for conveying how African women's literature is situated in relation to colonialism. Notwithstanding the centrality of African literature in the new postcolonial literatures in English, the accomplishments of the indigenous writer Grace Ogot have been eclipsed by the critical attention given to her male counterparts, while Elspeth Huxley, Barbara Kimenye, and Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye, who are of Western cultural provenance but adopt an African perspective, are not accommodated by the genre of 'expatriate literature'. The present study of both indigenous and white (post)colonial women's narratives that are common to both categories fills this gap. Focused on the representation of gender, identity, culture, and the 'Other', the texts selected are set in Kenya and Uganda, and a main concern is with the extent to which they are influenced by setting and intercultural influences. The 'African' woman's creation of textuality is at once the expression of female individualities and a transgression of boundaries. The particular category of fiction for children as written by Kimenye and Macgoye reveals the configuration of a voice and identity for the female 'Other' and writer which enables a subversive renegotiation of identity in the face of patriarchal traditions.
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