Date of Degree

6-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Robert F. Reid-Pharr

Keywords

Adichie, Americanah, blackness, Cole, new African diaspora, Open City

Abstract

In this thesis, I explore the ways by which new-wave black African immigrants confront and negotiate American tropes of blackness for individual and collective identity formations. Specifically, I focus on the memory of slavery as it is used for black collectivity in the United States. I argue that, although new-wave black African immigrants do not share the same memory of slavery with the descendants of slaves, they experience the racism perpetuated from the period of slavery because of their phenotypical blackness. In addition, these immigrants bring to the United States new memories and understandings of Africa that transform the ways Americans understand Africanness and blackness. By using historical, sociological, and literary analysis, I illustrate these immigrants' socialization into America's racial society. Moreover, I argue for the necessity to develop an inclusive theory of diaspora that is not rooted solely in the memory of slavery and that does not assert separateness between an old (descendants of slaves) and new (contemporary African immigrants) diaspora. I present an African diaspora theory that acknowledges blackness as the product of any given moment--its meaning in constant negotiation as affected by time and space.

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