Questions of apprenticeship in African and Caribbean narratives : gender, journey, and development

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2001-08

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Higgins, MaryEllen

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Abstract

Questions of Apprenticeship in African and Caribbean Narratives: Gender, Journey, and Development examines African and Caribbean narratives that follow the apprenticeships of young protagonists while simultaneously critiquing postcolonial development politics. The novels and films studied represent three important dimensions of global journeys: the flight to cities within Africa, emigration from the Caribbean to the American metropolis, and African women's journeys the battlefields of national independence struggles. Inspired by interactions with African scholars while on fellowship in Senegal, chapter one demonstrates that two Wolof-language films—Mansour Sora Wade's Picc Mi and Djibril Diop Mambety's La petite vendeuse de soleil—counter dominant discourses of global development. In addition, Wade and Mambety underscore the absence of choice for growing numbers of Senegalese urban children. Chapter two investigates how Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory and Esmeralda Santiago's When I Was Puerto Rican challenge cosmopolitanism and theories of the Bildungsroman where the indigenous home is frequently represented as a place from which one must escape, as a situation the successfully "developed" protagonist must transcend. In contrast, these novels use liberating stories from Haiti and Puerto Rico to interpret the protagonists' experiences in the metropolis. Chapter three examines Zimbabwean filmmaker Ingrid Sinclair's Flame and Algerian author Assia Djebar's Fantasia. These artists highlight women's apprenticeships as revolutionaries in African independence movements to underscore the injustice of their subsequent exclusion from post-independence politics and to protest their marginalization in the domestic sphere. My conclusion reflects upon African and Caribbean narratives of development as alternative visions of national and personal growth.

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