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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Mr Jarmo Pikkujamsa


Jarmo Pikkujamsa
Mr Jarmo Pikkujamsa
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Thesis title:
The Search for Resolution in the Tensions of Senegalese Life: Francophone African writing with special reference to the novels of Ken Bugul
Year of Study:
Successful viva - February 2011
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My thesis looks at the textual representations of tensions in Ken Bugul's work, in comparison with similar examples by other francophone African writers. They include tensions that emerge between public and private spheres; tensions caused by the set of choices for women's roles; tensions caused by economic and social inequality; and tensions between tradition and modern, as well as ideological tensions. The ways in which these tensions appear are often tied to what are presented in the thesis as collectivising structures of society. These structures are formed by Wolof cultural concepts and by Muslim brotherhood practices as well as by ambiguities arising from contacts with (former) colonizers. This thesis argues that it is the collectivising structures against which individuals need to particularise their position in order to find a resolution to tensions in their life. This thesis also looks at the évolué culture and how its role develops throughout these textual representations. The books of Ken Bugul depict the environment and the circumstances in which the évolué culture and the Muslim brotherhoods as well as the role of the Marabout shape Senegalese reality. Moreover, it is suggested in this thesis that her textual representations of exile and return 'unmake' what is generally understood as the 'hybrid subject' between different cultures. The example of the heroine Ken and the narrative of polarisations of Europe and Senegal that her story embodies throughout Ken Bugul's first three novels are a manifestation of an ideological tension that comes to an end in Riwan ou le chemin de sable. In her later books, new role models that are representative of modern urban Senegal, also represented in a large part of contemporary francophone African writing, have 'outdated', on the one hand, the évolué role model, and the model of the 'patient and silent' wife, idealized by some of the Senegalese Muslim brotherhoods, on the other.