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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Boundaries of the nation: boundaries of the self: African nationalist fictions and Nuruddin Farah's 'Maps'
Author:Cobham, R.
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Somalia
About person:Nuruddin Farah (1945-)ISNI
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3819826
Abstract:This essay argues that the transformation of the anti-imperialist struggle in Africa into a nationalist movement exacerbated a crisis of individual and collective identity that is staged in the African novel. Critics have seen these two levels of trauma in terms of an allegorical correspondence between the psychic crisis of the (usually educated) individual and the sociopolitical crisis of individual identity of the modern nation-State. The present author reads the crisis of individual identity as a crisis of gender and sexual identities that parallels and intersects with the sociopolitical manifestations of disorder, and it is this process of destabilization that Nuruddin Farah's 'Maps' (1986) enacts. Farah's refusal to accept the categories of gender and nation as sacrosanct or independent of each other is not without precedent in modern African literature. Other writers such as Laye, Ngugi, Achebe, Soyinka and Armah have also contributed to the debate about the efficacy of an identity built around contested 'natural' categories. 'Maps' can thus be read as an extension and elaboration of a familiar theme within modern African literature. Its protagonist is a Somali child, growing up after World War II in that area of contested territory between Ethiopia and Somalia known as the Ogaden. His story is told by three narrative voices.