University of Notre Dame

Africa on the Move: African Migration in Literature and Film

Course Number: ENGL 13186-6
Instructor: Z’etoile Imma

As many scholars, journalists, and artists have demonstrated, in the last several decades, Africans have increasingly responded to economic, socio-cultural, and political pressures by migrating from rural areas to cities, from African countries to the Western countries, from developing nations to highly-industrialized centers. In this course, we will explore African experiences of migration through a wide variety of contemporary African literature, film, and other audiovisual texts. We will critically examine theories of diaspora, home, nation, exile, “brain-drain,” alienation, displacement, statelessness, memory, belonging, border-crossing, and borderlands.

Some questions that will guide our analysis are: How do literary, cinematic, and musical texts represent the different circumstances which lead African individuals or families to migrate? How do African writers, filmmakers, and artists contend with intersecting constructions of race, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, and/or religious affiliation in their discussions of African experiences of migration? What do narratives of migration from an African perspective tell us about Western and/or hegemonic constructions of race, space, and culture? What do cultural productions which focus on African migration reveal about the legacies and continuities of colonialism and imperialism? How do representations of African migration make and unmake the local and global?

As we examine a diverse set of texts and voices, we will also consider to how questions regarding form, genre, and aesthetics speak to the complexities and contradictions inherent to the African migrant experience. To deepen and broaden our study, we will complement the reading of creative texts with an engagement of current scholarly research on the trends in contemporary African migration. Along with active reading of all course material and active participation in class discussion, assignments will include several response papers, two argument driven essays, as well as, a creative writing assignment.

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