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Contemporary Francophone “Afropean” Writers: From Francophonie to the Banlieue – Christopher Hogarth. School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia – Cardiff University MLANG 21.11.18

“Afropean” is a term that has its origins with David Byrne, the Talking Heads front man. It was used to describe a music fusion. Silvia Brancato on “Afro-European Literature” as “New Discursive Category”. This talks of the “Reciprocal embeddedness” of Africa and Europe. “Afropean narratives reveal a Europe which has always been transcultural.” (2011) Francophone Cameroonian novelist Léonora Miano, Afropean Soul. Multiple Belongings vs Republican Frenchness. Popularity of spaces of multiple belonging, especially in African context. Artificial nature of European-created nation-states in Africa (imagined in Berlin in 1884) and the history of inter-ethnicity there. Nature of contemporary European Union with the movement and employment opportunities. In France the notion of multiple or hyphenated identities is rarely discussed. In France there is no social vocabulary to designate descendants of postcolonial immigrants. Postcolonial vs Francophonie in academic criticism “Littérature française” shelved separately from “littérature étrangère” “Littérature francophone” now includes Francophone authors from all backgrounds. These backgrounds include authors from postcolonial France and Francophone writers. Limited identification in the public sphere which in turn influences everything from popular media to academic work in France. Some social scientists use ‘issu(e)(s) de la diversité’, but also an umbrella term Looking at texts in Liverpool University Press on Francophone Afropean literatures: Authors were born and spent significant portions of their childhood in Africa. African culture whose education system was heavily influenced by France. Exception: N’Sondé as a post-migratory Afropean. Work focuses on geography of French banlieues. Quite different from cosmopolitan authors such as Mabanckou and Miano. Post-migratory Afropeans. 2nd and 3rd generation authors with postcolonial heritage can be seen as “post-migratory” artists. They have stronger links to France than the African continent. Criticisms include: “Afro descendance” and “Double exclusion”? Post-migratory Afropeans – Borderless and brazen? They do not enjoy the same international acclaim as cosmopolitan figures. eg. Mabonckou’s publicity machine. Popularisation of post-migratory Afropeans – they publish with smaller, specialist publishing houses. There is an importance of transmediality – Slam poetry, rap, CD ROMs, CDs. They have prefaces written by more famous scholars and stars eg. Lilian Thuram. Reading as a duty towards “social justice”. Representations of mobility across Afropean texts. Most works are stuck in Europe, in cities, in suburbs, with little chance of escape. There is a wide variety of ethnicities and experiences. Focus on marginalisation, economic problems, violence, struggle to escape through sport and education. Emphasis on lack of mobility to which some…

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The Repeating Island – Representations of the Francophone Caribbean

With close reference to Benitez-Rojo’s notion of the ‘repeating island’, discuss how the Francophone Caribbean has been represented by writers, travellers and artists.   This essay shall focus on how various writers, travellers and artists have represented the Francophone Caribbean. The Islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Haiti shall serve as the focus as these are the locations in the Caribbean where a Francophone culture dominates. From the art of Agostino Brunias, to depictions of Haitian revolutionary hero, Toussaint Louverture. From Martinican poet, Aimé Césaire’s, Le Cahier du Retour au Pays Natale to how film director Euzhan Palcy depicts Plantation culture in Rue Case Nègres. Of course, Benitez-Rojo’s notion of the ‘repeating island’ shall never be far from our minds and in order to utilise his ideas to full effect it shall be essential to firstly summarise exactly what this Cuban author refers to in his conceptualisation of Caribbean culture. Antonio Benítez-Rojo sees in the Caribbean a meta-archipelago that is affected by elements of Chaos that repeat across the different islands, incorporating a polyrhythmic essence that reverberates across the multilingual cultures that comprise the Antilles. In the postmodern, post-colonialist environment, the remnants of slavery cannot be escaped in that Plantation culture remains embedded, a core component of cultural discourses, resistance and a division along racial lines, more so than in other geographical regions of the world which adapt more readily to the global environment as they haven’t the same inherent difficulties as having to constantly define history, the oft suppressed history of the Atlantic Slave Triangle, the undocumented creolization, an oral history of African traces or eradicated Carib races or of illiterate Maroon communities who struggled against their Béké masters. The repeating island is a polyrhythmic syncretic agglomeration of different cultures that unites Africa with Europe and Asia with the Americas. Agostino Brunias was a London-based Italian painter from Rome, whose travels to the West Indies have bequeathed us with a rich vein of material of a not only escapist, but also romantic nature. Agostino Brunias ‘The Linen Market Santo Domingo’, ca. 1775   Agostino Brunias ‘Mujer criolla y criadas’, Saint-Domingue (Haiti), painted between 1773-1796     Agostino Brunias ‘Dancing Scene in the West Indies’, 1764-1796  In the first of the three paintings Brunias depicts a market scene. There is a stark contrast in the painting between the use of black and white, with the women mainly wearing white clothes. The…

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