American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-17-2016

Abstract

This study explores four African diasporic texts against a backdrop of the African dream of America, diasporic experience, post-colonialism and racism in the U.S. as portrayed in the writings of Ama Ata Aidoo’s The Dilemma of a Ghost (1971), Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah (2014), and Teju Cole’s Open City (2012) and Every Day Is for the Thief (2014). I argue that the African dream of America is different but also exemplary of the American experience and therefore a privileged lens for understanding “America.” During the course of this research project, I found that while the writings of Adichie and Aidoo are primarily about diaspora experience, the writings of Cole focus more on the global experience of modernity and capitalism, and their disappointing realities not only for African diaspora communities but other racial groups in the U.S. and globally. That is, the emphasis of this study is on post-colonialism and African diaspora experience in Aidoo and Adichie's works. To illustrate, while the characters in Aidoo and Adichie’s writings, in particular Eulalie and Ifemelu, are migrating from America to Ghana and Nigeria to America respectively, in search of the American and African dreams, and to reconnect to their African homelands, characters in Cole’s writings are being alienated, dehumanized and silenced by the devastating reality of global modernity and capitalism, exemplified by America but not exclusive to it. I unmask the construction of diaspora experience in these diaspora African fictional narrative and their ramifications for African diaspora communities. The study is informed by the theories and methods of race studies, African studies, colonial and post-colonial studies. Employing a post-colonial literary criticism, this study offers new ways of thinking about the relationship between African dreams of America, diaspora experience, race, post-colonialism and “modernity.” I analyze the depiction of the African dream of America and the diaspora experience in fiction produced by African diaspora writers, exploring fictions’ ability to do justice to diasporic Ghana and Nigerian experience. The literature I consider in this project addresses the historical specificity of the African diaspora experience but of equal importance it critically engages and exemplifies the American experience and global modernity.

Language

English

Keywords

African Diaspora, Experience, Immigration

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Trujillo, Michael

Second Committee Member

Lubin, Alex

Third Committee Member

Vasquez, Irene

Fourth Committee Member

Bishop, Stephen

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