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ERIC Number: ED371369
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-Dec
Pages: 10
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Reading African Women [Writers].
Ward, Cynthia
The works of women African writers such as Bessie Head, Mariama Ba, Buchi Emecheta, and Flora Nwapa have become increasingly familiar to North American college students during the past decade, largely through their inclusion on feminist reading lists. Because the pedagogical value of these texts lies in their presumed ability to speak for African women, the texts are to greater or lesser degrees decontextualized from the material circumstances of production. Rather, they are interrogated with apparently oppositional questions. In identity-based questions, the African woman presumably defined by such questions is, according to Michelle Rosaldo, an image of "ourselves undressed." This exposes the author, cast in the role of spokesperson for the African Woman, to interrogations about her own authenticity. Conversely, another range of questions deconstructs identity-based assumptions and ultimately resists the imperialist politics of representation and authenticity. Both approaches attempt to keep cultural assumptions: both attribute a primal illiteracy to the speakers of "mother tongues" and assume that deconstructive literacy is deployed only in western languages. To use any text as a bridge between academics and African women, it is necessary to be attentive to what degree the factors that shape western notions of literacy are operative in Africa. Such considerations as the traditional privileging of written over oral narrative and culturally encoded interpretive reading practices have crucial implications for the way texts written by women African writers are"consumed" in western classrooms as cultural products. (SAM)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A