Ethnicity and Ethnic Identity Construction in Selected Nigerian Novels


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




The majority of studies on Nigerian novels, from linguistic perspectives, have concentrated mostly on stylistic and semantic components, keeping silent on how linguistic resources are utilized to create and negotiate identities. This study, therefore, investigates the use of language in context-specific ways in the construction of ethnicity and ethnic identity in Nigerian novels. This is an attempt to indicate how certain linguistic forms are deployed to signal ethnicity and ethnic affiliations. Liwhu Betiang’s “Cradle on the Scale”, Helon Habila’s “Measuring Time”, E. E. Sule’s “Sterile Sky”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun”, Ngozi Achebe’s “Onaedo the Blacksmith’s Daughter” and Sefi Atta’s “A Bit of Difference” are sampled texts. These texts are read critically, applying aspects of socio-ethno-linguistic framework that accounts for ethnicity and ethnic identity construction. It is hoped that this study indicates the interconnectivity and interdependence between language and identity construction in the Nigerian novel.