SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Ms Hanna Ali

BA English & American Literature (Kent) MA Postcolonial Studies (Kent)


Ali Hanna - CCLPS PHD IMG - 485 186 56
Ms Hanna Ali
Email address:
Thesis title:
'Afrabia': Identity, Islam & Geography in Eastern African Writings in the Diaspora
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Arab identity and African identity are not an either-or proposition and many Arabs are simultaneously African. A quarter of the population of Africa is Arab and indeed there are more Arabs in Africa then there are outside Africa and this is the reason why Africa has been referred to as “basically an Afro-Arab landmass”.

This project examines African identity in what is known as ‘Afrabia’, by speculating whether the whole of Africa and the whole of the Arab world are in the process of merging into one. The aim of this research is not to limit the identity of the peoples of Africa to an either/or binary but instead open up the classification of people who, culturally, view themselves as African and Arab and British, for an example, in order to debunk any fixed notions of Africans both in the continent and abroad. I will do so by arguing that the definition of an Arab or an African cannot be defined through race alone and instead will take into consideration the cultural and linguistic links that bind communities beyond race and ethnicity.

A great deal of scholarship has been produced on both African and Arab identity in literature as separate entities but very few have engaged with the combination of both as a potential legitimate sense of identity. Therefore, this is currently an understudied field and this research hopes to make an immense contribution to enhancing the discourse on 'Afrabia' in postcolonial literature.