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The Biafra War: Cultural Memory in two novels of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chinelo Okparanta
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, African studies.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Recently new novels about the Biafra war have appeared, proving the ongoing impact of the Nigerian civil war on writers’ interest, and the importance of memory in our life. For all these reasons, I decided to write the present thesis on how memory function in a literary work. The objective is to analyse the literary representation of the Biafra war, with a special focus on individual and collective memory production through two fictional novels: Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta.

In analysing the literary representations of Biafra in the light of memory studies, I have identified two levels of memory: literary characters’ memory and writers’ memory. Focusing on the level of the memory of the characters, I explored what the characters remember about the Biafra war both when the war is over and when it is still in progress, and what strategies they use to remember or to forget painful memories of the war.  What emerged through this first level of analysis is how Adichie and Okparanta have offered narratives focused not only on accounts of the war, but also on feelings and emotions. Moreover, the strategies of remembering and of forgetting represent tools of survival, and they are not in a relationship of exclusion.

Focusing on the level of writers’ memory, I explored the perspectives used by Adichie and Okparanta to narrate and remember the Biafra war: a perspective from below, focused on ordinary people and on their daily lives; a female perspective which represents a novelty in a literary landscape dominated by male writers; the danger of a single story and its risk to create hegemonic narratives; the fictional perspective as a way to enrich a historical event with suggestive details fruit of writers’ imagination; the Afropolitan perspective and the greater openness of mind of the new generation of African writers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Cultural Memory, Adichie, Okparanta, Biafra, Afropolitanism
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-28167OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-28167DiVA, id: diva2:1232746
Available from: 2018-07-12 Created: 2018-07-12

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