African Literary Field and the Challenge of Writing Languages


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Languages and Literature


This project builds on Michael Andindilile's project "The Anglophone African Literary-Linguistic Continuum: English and Indigenous African Languages in African Literary Discourse" (see AHP Fellows 2009-2010) to examine the sociologic tension in the African literary field between choosing to write in international languages (such as English, French, Portuguese) and African languages (such as Swahili, Xhosa, Zulu, Kabyle or Berber, Mbundu.) The latter are generally considered to be national or ethnical mediums that could not allow writers to reach an international audience (the controversial use of Afrikaans or Arabic as literary idioms in the context of nationalist ideologies will also be studied as a special case). It is based on the very innovative concept of "champ littéraire" ("literary field") introduced by Pierre Bourdieu and successfully used by Pascale Casanova to explore the struggle for autonomy by writers from regions far removed from literary centers (London, Paris, Lisbon).