SOAS University of London

African Languages, Cultures and Literatures Section

Ms Miriam Pahl

BA (Bremen) MA (Bremen)


Miriam Pahl
Ms Miriam Pahl
Email address:
Thesis title:
Precarious Lives in the Postcolony – The Concept of the Human in Contemporary African Genre Fiction in English
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


After finishing my BA in Cell Biology with a semester abroad in Cape Town, South Africa I decided I would not spend my life in laboratories. I studied English-Speaking Cultures and Cultural Studies (BA) and transnational literary studies (MA) at the University of Bremen, Germany with repeated stays in Ghana and Nigeria. While these courses covered a wide field of the production and reception of literature, film and drama around the world, I developed my expertise in West African literature. More broadly, my main disciplinary interests are postcolonial theory, political thought, ethics and cultural production.

PhD Research

My dissertation examines the transformation of Anglophone African literature on the “global stage” after 2005, a period which is marked by Binyavanga Wainaina’s article “How to Write About Africa” (2005) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech “The Danger of a Single Story” (2009). In this period, African literature both on the continent and beyond has become more and more defined from the interior of the continent. This shift towards self-authorization allows writers to self-consciously emancipate themselves from the imperative to represent “Africa” in response to colonial discourses and to subordinate the legacies of colonialism to an extended range of themes and concerns. Consequently, contemporary African writers are able to insist more decidedly on heterogeneity and self-centredness, a consequence that translates to a wider array of genres and forms in their writing. Literary criticism, meanwhile, remains bound up in a persisting need to define “Africa” and African-ness and the question of how Africa can be “realised” literarily in opposition to the erasures, negations and dehumanisations of colonial discourses. Especially the literary African novel has been understood as closely linked to the recuperation of African subjectivity and humanity, a connection that explains why African literature is still predominantly analysed from the singular vantage point of the postcolonial African novel. My dissertation examines a range of texts that exemplify the expansion of genres and forms in African writing and argues that a reading of these texts falls short if it is limited to the context of the African novel and as a site of recuperating “Africa” (African narrative traditions, epistemologies, subjectivities). I suggest that approaching these texts through the theories and concepts formulated in the study of popular literature and culture enables a fuller understanding on the levels of form, content and context.


  • Pahl, Miriam. “Afropolitanism as Critical Consciousness: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s and Teju Cole’s Internet Presence.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 28.1 (2016): 73–87.


  • ‘Blending and Bending:  Contemporary African Crime Fiction and Political Ideologies’ Writing for Liberty Conference, University of Lancaster, UK. April 17-18 2015
  • ‘Kenyan Literature and the Rwandan Genocide’ as part of the seminar ‘Wars I Have Seen’, University of Bremen, Germany. December 18, 2014
  • ‘Transnationalism, African Writing and the Single Story’ Cadbury Conference about ‘Class in Africa’. Birmingham, UK. May 16-17, 2014
  • ‘Decoloniality and Ethnicity in Chimamanda Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun’ at the 2nd annual Toyin Fulola Conference on Africa and the African Diaspora about "Cultures, Identities, Nationalities and Modernities in Africa and the African Diaspora". Lagos, Nigeria. July 2-4, 2012