Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Disabled Woman/Nation: Re-narrating the Erasure of (Neo)colonial Violence in Ondjaki's Good Morning Comrades and Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2010), 4, (3), 309–326.

Abstract

The article interrogates the erasure of violence through the use of disabled women's bodies as tropes in postcolonial African literature; it argues that the use of disabled women's bodies as symbols of the 'disabled' postcolonial nation creates a catharsis through which knowledge of the violence of (neo)colonial relations—the impact of which has been experienced as war and exploitation—is erased or suppressed. Through an application of Ato Quayson's typologies of disability representations to two contemporary African novels, the article contributes to a 'disabling' of both Postcolonial Literary Studies and to feminist anti-racist possibilities for Disability Studies by showing that disability representations in these texts serve to erase neocolonial violence. The article argues that the centrality of political catharsis in Ondjaki's Good Morning Comrades and Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions presents us with a different basis for aesthetic short-circuiting than does Quayson's conceptualization of a generalized fear of contingency and death brought on by an encounter with disability. Quayson's work gives many ideas about how this short-circuiting happens, but not why it happens. The article concludes that the answer can be found in the specific histories that are being suppressed and in the political choices that arise out of these histories.

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Author details

Gorman, Rachel

Udegbe, Onyinyechukwu