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Title: Re-presenting a nation : francophone Cameroon in the novels and films of Beti, Bekolo, Beyala, Teno and Oyono
Author: Dougherty-Messi, Etienne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2689 898X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2010
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In this thesis I will trace the shifting representations of post-Independence Cameroon through a detailed analysis of the literary texts of two of its most celebrated writers (Mongo Beti and Calixthe Beyala), and the cinematic production of two of its most innovative filmmakers (Jean-Marie Téno and Pierre Békolo).  Theoretically, this study will be informed by both European and African post-colonial criticism, as well as other recent works of feminism, philosophy, and political theory, and will thereby critically engage with both Western and Afrocentric approaches to Sub-Saharan Africa’s literary and cinematic self-representation. The Cameroonian writers and filmmakers that will be the focus of this project provide an opportunity for a kind of critical dialogue between Western and African post-colonial interpretations of Sub-Saharan African cultural texts.  Starting with the theories of Franz Fanon and Albert Memmi on de-colonisation and the preservation of an authentic African identity, I will look at the question of Cameroon’s cultural and national identity, which is often portrayed as Francophone and yet authentically African, as a useful example of the complex nature of post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa’s self-perception.  Beti’s works (1953-2000) and their representation of a ‘lost’ Cameroonian nation that must be rediscovered fully display this complexity. The novels of Calixthe Beyala stand in stark contrast to the male-centred representation of Cameroon to be found in Beti’s work.  Her celebration of marginal and dispossessed figures directly addresses the marginalising and exclusionary forces at work in most literary representations of Sub-Saharan Africa.  In this section I will use the key post-colonial concepts of marginality, hybridity, and positionality that have been popularised by Homi K. Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak to assess the extent to which women writers like Beyala have become crucially important to Sub-Saharan Africa’s self conception. Cinema has likewise become increasingly important in Cameroon as a medium of cultural self-representation.  Cameroonian filmmakers have begun to exploit cinema’s power as an effective tool for mass political activism and change.  This has brought about such critically acclaimed films as Téno’s Retours au pays natal (2000), and Békolo’s Le Complot d’Aristote (1996).  In my thesis I will show how these filmmakers respond to the socio-political challenges of Cameroon, and thereby construct a fertile space for dialogical exchange between all producers of cultural texts.  The close analysis of their films will demonstrate the ways in which cinema is inherently bound up with other critical discourses on post colonialism in Africa, and the way in which it is intimately linked to literary concerns in the current period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cameroon literature (French)