The African novel and its global communicative potential

Africa’s soft power

Authored by: Mary-Jean Nleya

Routledge Handbook of African Media and Communication Studies

Print publication date:  February  2021
Online publication date:  February  2021

Print ISBN: 9781138574779
eBook ISBN: 9781351273206
Adobe ISBN:


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Media and communication gives life to the “right to narrate” (Bhabha 1994, xx). However, ways of narrating information and messages are often subject to the contest of complex economic, political and social processes in the contemporary global order (Bhabha 1994, 245). It is submitted that at the core of media and communication are the politics of representation that are informed by historical, ideological and cultural perspectives (Bhabha 1994, 245–246). The purpose of this chapter is to include cultural production – in the form of literature – as a medium with communicative potential. The chapter is situated within the oppositional forces of representation that are directly and indirectly linked to economic and political authority within the contemporary global landscape and the “discourses of ‘minorities’ within the geopolitical divisions of North and South” (Bhabha 1994, 245). The chapter will advance the argument on the role of literature, in communications, in the following four ways: firstly, the role of language as a medium through which literary expression takes its form. Secondly, an analysis on the feasibility of a pan-African notion of African literature. Thirdly, a discussion on three novelists who are the subjects of the discussion and their respective literary works. And fourthly, the role of literature (a communicative medium signifying cultural agency) as a form of Africa’s soft power.

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