Titel: Rethinking Past and Future: Identity and Trauma in Contemporary Afrodiasporic Women’s Speculative Fiction
Sprache: Englisch
Autor*in: Wühr, Eva
Erscheinungsdatum: 2021-12
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 2021-06-09
Zusammenfassung: 
This thesis explores the distinctive ways in which contemporary Afrodiasporic female authors of speculative fiction imagine, think about, and portray diasporic identities, cultural hybridity, and personal and collective colonial and postcolonial traumas. The thesis focuses on the healing from trauma which emerges in the realms of intersectionally oppressive systems. To do so, it engages in five female centred Afrofuturist novels, a group of texts which I call Afrospeculative trauma narratives: Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories, Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl, Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring and Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death. It examines how female writers of the African diaspora use speculative fiction’s conventions, blended with African cosmology, to portray diasporic identity configuration and ways to healing during and after traumas distinct to the Afrodiasporic community. My reading of the novels carves out what I call a transformative Afrodiasporic trauma theory, which expands on currently predominant Western trauma concepts, which are deficient in representing and accounting for female Afrodiasporic experience. Thus, this thesis contributes to a revised approach of literary trauma studies, originally conceptualized in the edited collection titled Contemporary Approaches in Literary Trauma Theory by Michelle Balaev. This new model goes beyond conventional, assimilationist Eurocentric trauma theory, and celebrates multiplicity, fluidity and plurality, instead of being pathologizing. Moreover, the thesis outlines femaleauthored Afrofuturism’s potential to fill gaps emerging in the realms of both realist or mimetic fiction and conventional science fiction, as, in offering alternative representations, it revises and subverts traditionally maleand white-centred science fiction and transcends realism’s conceptual limits in representing traumatic experience.
Being linked to both historical trauma and the speculative, and highlighting formerly silenced and marginalized voices, thus drawing a counter-narrative to traditionally male- and white-centred texts, the novels offer themselves as a way to speak for, and to, the forgotten or marginalized, to commemorate a traumatic past, to critique a present which is not sufficiently different from the past, and to envision a more equal future. Using the concept of trauma as a complex, culturally specific tool, the thesis explores how the five novels respond to, and position themselves, within the discussion on hybridity, diasporic identities, and trauma healing, thereby showcasing the genre’s healing potential. It specifically emphasizes Afrofuturism’s potential to have a cathartic effect on posttraumatic societies through reader empathy and identification as well as intragroup support through Van der Merwe and Gobodo- Madikizela’s concept of ‘bibliotherapy’ and Griffin’s ‘textual healing’, thus highlighting the general significance of the imagination and narration for working through traumatic memories. The novels examined in this thesis offer new ways of conceptualizing the connection between cultural trauma and historical memory, providing interesting and important perspectives on trauma, rich resources for healing, and important insights into the connections between colonial histories, enslavement and the disembodied Self, which may lead to a new understanding and a raised awareness around trauma and the possibilities for recovery, yet also allegorically portray that history has not yet been adequately resolved and must never be forgotten, as it shapes both present and future. Thus, considering both historical, transgenerational and personal and collective neo-colonial traumas and their healing through memory-work, “actively forgetting” and the configuration of multiple identities or assemblage, the thesis highlights how Afrofuturist literature disrupts the traumatic silence with which many contemporary, posttraumatic societies, such as the United States, are still yoked.
URL: https://ediss.sub.uni-hamburg.de/handle/ediss/9360
URN: urn:nbn:de:gbv:18-ediss-97269
Dokumenttyp: Dissertation
Betreuer*in: Berns, Ute
Sanger, Nadia
Enthalten in den Sammlungen:Elektronische Dissertationen und Habilitationen

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