Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors
Nnedi Okorafor. Who fears death, Intersectionality (Sociology), Speculative fiction
Speculative fiction has a long and troubled relationship with colonialist ideologies. While the abstraction within the genre lends itself to broader societal critiques, in practice it can contain problematic narratives that dehumanize othered groups (ibid), enforce racial constructs, and avoid direct engagement with the oppressive structures it invokes. Nnedi Okorafor's novel, Who Fears Death, resists this defamiliarization. Utilizing the conventions of speculative fiction, Okorafor conjures real-world racist and sexist structures. Who Fears Death is an intersectional text, blending genre, race theory, and feminism to interrogate questions of authorship, agency, and identity within a colonialist, patriarchal society. Its representation of marginalization is intersectional--characters face challenges presented by the intersecting systems of patriarchy and colonialism. Its engagement with genre is intersectional--the setting is a post-apocalyptic future Africa, yet magic (and some more specific narrative and compositional elements) link it to fantasy. Together, the conflict and stakes of a fantasy epic become inextricable from the protagonists’ navigation of a hostile world. Who Fears Death confronts, unpacks, and ultimately exorcises colonialism from its world, demonstrating a complex post-colonial vision, and a fantastical model for moving forward.
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Hubbard, Miranda, "Post-Colonial Fantasy and Intersectional Heroism within Who Fears Death" (2019). University Honors Theses. Paper 780.