Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Floating Homelands: Postnational Constructions of Home in Contemporary Africana Women's Literature
by Butler, Maia L., Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2017, 198; 10269162
Abstract (Summary)

The floating homeland is a postnational imaginary in which Africana women writers articulate a sense of self, space, and identity. Edwidge Danticat’s use of the term refers to the “tenth department” that describes the Haitian dyaspora, and I find this concept generative for exploring constructions of home in the canon of Africana literature. I introduce the project by theorizing the floating homeland, represented in various ways; it is characterized by being constructed but not yet realized, political in its inception, and grounded in a conception of living in diaspora as being always-already unmoored. My articulation of the floating homeland intervenes in contemporary discourse about home in diaspora studies; it addresses the constructed and imaginary nature of origins and the disruption of the binary between the home and host nations. As such, it illuminates the distinction between home and nation, or national identity, and theorizes a postnational conception of home in which migratory subjects of the African diaspora can fashion their own belonging. The texts I examine participate in the cultural work of imagining postnational diasporic communities through their representations of home and migrations from the levels of the local to the global. The body of my project is framed by two chapters: in the first, “Beyond Nationalisms: Floating Homeland as Postnational Community in Dyaspora”, I argue Edwidge Danticat performs a hopeful, generative call for the construction of floating homelands in Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, and in the last, “Blogging Race, Blogging Nation: Discursive Construction of Home in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah”, I argue the novel responds with Ifemelu’s creation of what I call a digital diaspora. Within this frame, the central two chapters track the imaginative work in the space between the call and response. “Pushing the Limitations and Possibilities of Home: Racial Negotiations and Syncretic Epistemologies in Toni Morrison’s Paradise”, and “Imagining Countries, Re-memorying Homes: Displacement and Unhomeliness in NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names”, examine how these novels represent the struggle to construct communities that can accommodate the complexity of black identities, whether staying put or on the move in diaspora.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Davis-McElligatt, Joanna
Commitee: Ingram, Shelley, Wu, Yung-Hsing
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Black studies, Womens studies, American literature
Keywords: Africana women writers, Diaspora, Home, Migration, Postnationalism, Race
Publication Number: 10269162
ISBN: 978-0-355-11446-1
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