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Title: Cultural identity and the Nigerian novel in the 1950's
Author: Whittaker, David George.
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2005
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In this thesis I argue that the development of the Nigerian novel in the 1950's created an optimistic space within which writers were able to reassert repressed cultural identities, becoming significant participants in the effort to develop viable post-colonial cultural identities within societies whose histories and cultures had been radically disrupted by colonialism. I focus on a number of significant debates in contemporary postcolonial cultural theory around the question of African cultural identity and argue that the Nigerian novels of this era acted as strategic interventions, in opposition to the denigrating stereotyping of colonial discourses, often articulating a profound desire to renew confidence in the legitimacy of indigenous cultural traditions and values. Nigeria is now recognized as one of the most prolific areas for literary production in sub-Saharan Africa. My thesis aims to demonstrate that the literature which first emerged there in the 1950's was pivotal not only in the development of one of Africa's most distinctive and vibrant national literatures, but also for African literature in general. The 1950's was a significant era in Nigerian history as it spanned the last years of British colonial rule and witnessed the optimistic culmination of Nigeria's independence movement. Although the decade ended with Nigeria's independence in 1960, the legacy of almost a century of British imperialism had been profound. Colonialism and the struggle for selfdetermination and decolonization became crucial issues for Nigerian writers, as they attempted to articulate a sense of the historical, political, social and cultural topography of their newly emerging nation. The independence movement in Nigeria was accompanied by an affirmatory cultural nationalism which was manifested in the novels of Amos Tutuola, Cyprian Ekwensi, Chinua Achebe and T. M. Aluko as a conscious search for new forms of identity, capable of embracing traditional cultures within the context of a modem African nation state. I analyse the impact of European imperialism on notions of African cultural identity and the various strategies of appropriation and/or resistance adopted by Nigerian novelists in their attempts to delineate a sense of their own identities. My thesis defines the nature of these representations of cultural identity and examines the inherent difficulties and contradictions these novelists confronted when articulating Afrocentric identities in Western languages and literary forms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available