Research

My research focuses on the relations between African literatures and the material world. I am primarily interested in how literary forms have been used by writers from across the continent and the diaspora to imagine alternative political, social and cultural ways of being. Although my primary research focuses on the post-1980s period of Africa literatures, I have also published on earlier works by Frantz Fanon and on the novels of Salman Rushdie and Jamaica Kincaid. Although close reading is an essential part of my critical practice, I also consider fieldwork to be essential component of my work and have, in recent years, made visits to Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya in support of my dissertation project. I understand Anglophone and Postcolonial Studies to be two of my primary fields, but am nevertheless a card-carrying comparatist who also studies texts written in French and Kiswahili. The interdisciplinary nature of my work and training means that I also contribute to the broader field of African Studies. See my publications page for a list of my research outputs.

Femrite Pic
The premises of FEMRITE (the Uganda Women Writers Association) where I conducted research in the summer of 2017.

My dissertation explores the relations between the global crisis of capitalism and post-1980s African literary production. I argue that when the study of recent African narratives is oriented by the crisis, texts from national contexts as diverse as Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo can be read not only for their formal encoding of capitalism’s failure to produce value, but also for their articulation of politics of “resilience” at the level of literary form. Resilience, for this project, describes a concern with alternative ways of living and existing under crisis capitalism. The project engages extensively with scholarship from across the disciplinary spectrum of African Studies in order to locate the production of fiction within and against a range of material and ideological processes. With each chapter focusing upon a different national context, the dissertation pays close attention to the economic, political, and social circumstances from which individual texts emerge and relies upon fieldwork conducted on the continent. In its use of geographically and linguistically diverse case studies (in English, French, and Kiswahili), it also aims to place the study of Anglophone African literature in a productive dialogue with related sub-fields. Authors studied include: Ben Okri, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, In Koli Jean Bofane, Said Ahmed Mohamed, Susan Kiguli, Mary Karooro Okurut, Violet Barungi, and Euphrase Kezilahabi.