This dissertation examines violence as portrayed in African literature, with particular attention to Ahmadou Kourouma’s En attendant le vote des bêtes sauvages, to show that African fiction seems to absorb tragic facts cathartically and subsequently operates as acts of resistance against the after-effects of colonialism and abuses of power by dictatorial African regimes since independence.
I argue that violence in Francophone post-colonial societies arises from two sources. Europe is the first source, as a consequence of its policies of imperialism, ethnocentrism, and racism against people who did not correspond to the required criteria of the “superior race.” This idea of a "perfect race" has survived to the present, but in a less radical form. The second source is from within Africa, and stems from the aftermath of the era of colonization. In studying the links between these two sources, I demonstrate that the responsibility for today’s political violence and abuses in postcolonial societies must be shared by both France and the corrupt regimes it imposed on its former colonies. On the one hand, survivors of independence recall how France eliminated any popular nationalist leaders, installing corrupt, bureaucratic regimes; on the other hand, those bureaucratic regimes’ continued pillaging replicates colonial exploitation of the past. Two forms of civilian resistance and cultural subversion particular to literature enable Francophone authors to maneuver across and through the official discourses that attempt to speak for the people, ultimately challenging the bases of single-ruler tyrannies that masquerade as democracies. I build on the works of Pierre Bourdieu and his theory of “habitus” to illustrate how social agents develop strategies adapted to the needs of the social worlds that they inhabit. These strategies are unconscious, and act at times with violence on the level of a bodily logic. I borrow Cameroon political theorist Achille Mbembe’s theory of “banality of power” and his notion of “Postcolony” to endorse his stance that “Francophone Africa has a specifically given historical trajectory - that of societies recently emerging from the experience of colonization and violence that the colonial and postcolonial relationship involves,” that launched Africa into the “never-ending process of brutalization.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2008. Major French. Advisor: Professor Judith E. Preckshot. 1 computer file (PDF) v, 297 pages. + 1 computer file (DOC): English title page.
Pouvoir, violence et resistance en postcolonie : une lecture de en attendant le vote des betes Sauvages E’Ahmadou Kourouma.
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