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Accepted Paper:

African Women Writers, Creolised Aesthetics and Decolonial Worldmaking  


Paula Uimonen (Stockholm University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper probes creolisation and conviviality by way of African women writers, to broaden anthropological horizons on worldmaking beyond European perspectives. Reading literature through creolised aesthetics, it explores the creolisation of anthropological and literary theory with African womanism

Paper long abstract:

Thinking along conviviality at the crossroads (Hemer et al 2020), this paper explores worldmaking through African women's literature. Scholars have highlighted that African women "write the crossroads," their literature capturing the ambiguities and paradoxes of "this and that" rather than "this or that" of cultural entanglement (Nnaemekea 1995, 109). The crossroads can be theorised as a site of creolisation, a cultural location of exceptional creativity and historically formed social inequality. Using the concept creolised aesthetics to describe the creative agency and structural constraints of African women writers, this paper discusses conviviality in terms of worldmaking. Worldmaking is currently approached from different disciplinary angles, in world literature (Cheah 2014, Hayot 2011) and anthropology of the pluriverse (Escobar 2018, Ingold 2018). This paper approaches literature as a form of worldmaking that can help us rethink gender complementarity in postcolonial globality (Ogunyemi 1996, Thiong'o 2012), thus heeding the call for more critical perspectives on conviviality through "postcolonial and cosmopolitan synthesis" (Gilroy 2015, 242). To broaden anthropological horizons on worldmaking, the paper explores the creolisation of dominant theory, here exemplified by a cross-breeding of literary and anthropological theory with African womanist theory. While welcoming the scholarly effort to think through current challenges to democracy in Europe and beyond through conviviality, cosmopolitanism and creolisation (Hemer et al 2020), especially the decolonial ethics of creolised conviviality (Rodriguez 2020), this paper recognizes how anthropology can contribute to the decolonisation of cosmopolitanism (Uimonen 2019), to advance decolonial worldmaking, in theory and practice.

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Creolisation and conviviality