Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


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Robert F. Reid-Pharr


African Diaspora; Postcolonial Studies


Black Migrant Literature, New African Diasporas, and the Phenomenology of Movement examines immigration, diaspora, and movement in late twentieth and twenty-first century African literature. "Migritude" describes the work of a disparate yet distinct group of contemporary African authors who critically focus on migration within the context of globalization, emphasizing that the "past" of immigration is irreducibly entangled with colonial processes. These writers often refashion the politics or discourses of earlier movements within the black radical tradition, such as Négritude or pan-Africanism, as a way to engage immigration in the present. I argue that although immigration as a system developed as an imperial project in the late nineteenth century along with the modern nation-state, it evolved into the present era of global capitalism as an international assemblage of techniques of power. Checkpoints, passports, and even borders are symptoms of these global structures often operating by racializing and gendering migrant bodies. A careful analysis of migritude writing furthers our understanding of globality, movement, and the socio-economic processes of globalization. From Négritude to Migritude principally focuses on African women writers within new diasporas in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries such as Somali-British writer Nadifa Mohamed, Senegalese-French writer Fatou Diome, and Kenyan-born Shailja Patel, who now lives in the United States. Migrant women's bodies are targeted and managed in ways that both overlap and yet diverge from their male counterparts, and their experiences within various diasporas also differ. The migritude writers in this study therefore add to our understanding of the condition of immigration and the objects constellating it: borders, checkpoints, and passports, for example, while challenging gendered, racialized and often heteronormative anti-immigrant law and discourses that shape migrant being. Through close readings of five novels and one experimental prose-poem this dissertation engages the fields of black diaspora studies, African literature and globalization, postcolonial studies, theories of immigration and literature, and African women in/and migration. It assesses the work of Nadifa Mohamed, Fatou Diome, Shailja Patel, Cristina Ali Farah, Alain Mabanckou, Abduraman Waberi, Paulette Nardal, Claude McKay, Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and others.