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A personal quest: Travel writing as self-exploration in Eddy L. Harris’s Native Stranger: A Blackamerican’s Journey into the Heart of Africa
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages. (Concurrences)
2018 (English)In: Journal of Commonwealth Literature, ISSN 0021-9894, E-ISSN 1741-6442, Vol. 53, no 3, p. 363-378Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In Native Stranger: A Blackamerican's Journey into the Heart of Africa (1992), Eddy L. Harris explores what it means to be the person he is. What, if anything, connects him to Africa? What is the relation between the person he knows himself to be, and the person others see? Searching for answers to his questions, he finds himself caught between his attempts to remain open to new ways of seeing and understanding the world, on the one hand, and succumbing to the pressures of monolithic narratives about African otherness, race, belonging, roots and the past, on the other hand. This tension gives rise to an ambiguity and a number of contradictions which make the text fold back on itself. His literary project therefore ultimately serves to raise questions not only about his own identity and place in the world, but also about the conditions of writing about the self. Central among the contradictions that permeate the text is a doubling of epistemological perspectives, which can be described as an effect of what W. E. B. Dubois famously termed double-consciousness. While Harris is able to use the contradictions that arise from his writing to explore and represent the complexity of the questions that are foregrounded in his text, he is unable to answer them. His project is in other words a kind of failure, but as this article argues, this failure is the price that Harris pays to access the full complexity of selfhood, beyond political and social narratives about collective identity and how the present is shaped by the past.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2018. Vol. 53, no 3, p. 363-378
Keywords [en]
travel literature, african american literature, self-exploration in literature, life-writing, the black atlantic
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Humanities, English literature; Humanities, Comparative literature; Humanities, Creative writing
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-54505DOI: 10.1177/0021989416653438ISI: 000443354000003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-54505DiVA, id: diva2:945953
Projects
Across the Black Atlantic
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2012-6712Available from: 2016-07-04 Created: 2016-07-04 Last updated: 2018-09-13Bibliographically approved

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Hållén, Nicklas

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  • apa
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