Date of Award

7-26-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors

Department

English

First Advisor

Anoop Mirpuri

Subjects

Intersectionality (Sociology) in literature, Nnedi Okarafor. Who Fears Death -- Criticism and intepretation, Postcolonialsim in literature, Speculative fiction -- 21st century

DOI

10.15760/honors.798

Abstract

Speculative fiction has a long and troubled relationship with colonialist ideologies (Burnett 134). 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 (Langer 82), and avoid direct engagement with the oppressive structures it invokes (Bould 179). 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.

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/29204

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