UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

L’oubli et ses enjeux dans les littératures africaine et antillaise Akinwumi, Joel


By analyzing six postcolonial African and Caribbean novels written by Léonora Miano, Tierno Monénembo, Marie-Célie Agnant, Henri Lopes, Simone Schwarz-Bart and Patrick Chamoiseau, this dissertation unravels the protean nature, operation, and socio-cultural implications of forgetting in connection with the representation of the historical phenomena of the past, key among which are the Middle Passage, Transatlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism. Critical attention is paid to how forgetting derives from discursive practices and subtly imposed political and insidious ideologies. As an inevitable force, forgetting is often construed as the obverse face of memory and consequently as a kind of amnesia or dysfunction. Breaking away from this postulation, my research demonstrates that forgetting is not just a denial of memory but a peculiar modality of processing traumatic historical experiences. Secondly, leaning on theorists such as Paul Ricœur, Édouard Glissant, Edward S. Casey, and Tzvetan Todorov, I argue that forgetting needs to be nuanced in the light of the exigencies of the moment and that, more than a mere contestation of History, frictions around it touch on issues of gender norms, identity politics, race, marginality, agency, and utopianism. Thirdly, I conclude that forgetting functions as a matrix of literary creativity and expression free from the reductionist schematic divisions that have impinged on the relationship between the colonized African and Caribbean and their Western counterparts. To be sure, this research deepens our insight into the workings of forgetting from a literary standpoint and helps us to grasp more clearly how the equilibrium between memory and forgetting is attained.

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