Forms of Affiliation: Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and Globalism in Southern African Literary Media, 1950-present


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


African and African American Studies


This dissertation explores how writers from South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia have used interstitial genres of fiction in popular media to imagine multiple, entangled geographies of interconnection and belonging. These hybrid forms envision Africanness and blackness within a variety of overlapping spatial scales, from the township to the diaspora, thereby challenging the conception of these literatures as tied primarily to nationalist projects. It is particularly important to consider non-canonical forms in the southern African context, where the absence of a robust publishing industry has meant that popular media serve as vital literary outlets, often the only ones for African-language fiction. Drawing on English and Chichewa/Chinyanja texts from the 1950s to the present in a number of overlooked publications, including African Parade, Africa!, the Malawi News, and Chimurenga, the dissertation identifies four alternative generic categories, each of which makes visible new relationships between narrative, spatial affiliations, and modes of being.