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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Cosmopolitanism with African roots: Afropolitanism's ambivalent mobilities
Author:Gehrmann, SusanneISNI
Year:2016
Periodical:Journal of African Cultural Studies (ISSN 1469-9346)
Volume:28
Issue:1
Pages:61-72
Language:English
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:African identity
ethics
mobility
diasporas
prose
About persons:Teju Cole (1975-)ISNI
Taiye Selasi (1979-)ISNI
Link:https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2015.1112770
Abstract:This paper explores some aspects of the controversy which is now surrounding Afropolitanism, and examines the philosophical and literary output in relation to the concept. Mobility between spaces, in the cosmopolitan tradition, as well as digital mobility and visibility through the use of social media, are considered as key elements of Afropolitanism as a diasporic movement. So Afropolitanism can be described as a form of cosmopolitanism with African roots. However, the commodification of the term as a brand, and the class bias of Afropolitan lifestyle are more problematic. In the second part of the paper, the positions of African intellectuals are shown to convey more philosophical depth and moral relevance to Afropolitanism. In this vision of the concept, as it was initiated by Achille Mbembe, Afropolitanism is relevant for both the diaspora and for Africa. Afropolitanism in this understanding of it decentres, de-essentializes and valorizes the continent. The paper closes with readings of two novels of celebrated writers of the Afropolitan generation, namely Taiye Selasi's 'Ghana Must Go' and Teju Cole's 'Open City'. These novels feature complex Afropolitan characters and create a dense literary landscape through which to explore contemporary Afro-diasporic identity politics. The spatial and cultural mobilities expressed in this literature confirm Mbembe's repositioning of Africa as a philosophical locus of passage and mobility. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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