christopher hogarth

“Afropean” is a term that has its origins with David Byrne, the Talking Heads front man. It was used to describe a music fusion.

Silvia Brancato on “Afro-European Literature” as “New Discursive Category”. This talks of the “Reciprocal embeddedness” of Africa and Europe.

“Afropean narratives reveal a Europe which has always been transcultural.” (2011)

Francophone Cameroonian novelist Léonora Miano, Afropean Soul.

Multiple Belongings vs Republican Frenchness.

Popularity of spaces of multiple belonging, especially in African context.

Artificial nature of European-created nation-states in Africa (imagined in Berlin in 1884) and the history of inter-ethnicity there.

Nature of contemporary European Union with the movement and employment opportunities.

In France the notion of multiple or hyphenated identities is rarely discussed.

In France there is no social vocabulary to designate descendants of postcolonial immigrants.

Postcolonial vs Francophonie in academic criticism

“Littérature française” shelved separately from “littérature étrangère”

“Littérature francophone” now includes Francophone authors from all backgrounds.

These backgrounds include authors from postcolonial France and Francophone writers.

Limited identification in the public sphere which in turn influences everything from popular media to academic work in France.

Some social scientists use ‘issu(e)(s) de la diversité’, but also an umbrella term

Looking at texts in Liverpool University Press on Francophone Afropean literatures:

Authors were born and spent significant portions of their childhood in Africa.

African culture whose education system was heavily influenced by France.

Exception: N’Sondé as a post-migratory Afropean.

Work focuses on geography of French banlieues.

Quite different from cosmopolitan authors such as Mabanckou and Miano.

Post-migratory Afropeans. 2nd and 3rd generation authors with postcolonial heritage can be seen as “post-migratory” artists.

They have stronger links to France than the African continent.

Criticisms include: “Afro descendance” and “Double exclusion”?

Post-migratory Afropeans – Borderless and brazen?

They do not enjoy the same international acclaim as cosmopolitan figures.

eg. Mabonckou’s publicity machine.

Popularisation of post-migratory Afropeans – they publish with smaller, specialist publishing houses.

There is an importance of transmediality – Slam poetry, rap, CD ROMs, CDs.

They have prefaces written by more famous scholars and stars eg. Lilian Thuram.

Reading as a duty towards “social justice”.

Representations of mobility across Afropean texts.

Most works are stuck in Europe, in cities, in suburbs, with little chance of escape.

There is a wide variety of ethnicities and experiences.

Focus on marginalisation, economic problems, violence, struggle to escape through sport and education.

Emphasis on lack of mobility to which some often post-migratory minorities feel condemned.

Africans are in the rare position to be able to pick the best from both cultures consistently. They speak a French of high register.

They are a legacy of educational migration from Africa to France.

Concluding thoughts –

Most authors insist upon the uniqueness of their works histories and demand critics ‘not fence them in’.

Afropean could be one more in a long line of ideas created in order to homogenize a heterogeneous group of peoples.