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African literature of the diaspora

L'Afrique littéraire de la diaspora

The postures and rhetoric of writers

Postures et rhétoriques des écrivains

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Published on Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Plutôt qu’une réalité vécue, l’Afrique de l’écrivain de la diaspora serait pour le fervent lectorat local une construction narrative, déformée par le miroir de l’Occident. Qu’en est-il réellement ? L’œuvre du malgache Raharimanana par exemple  n’apporte-elle pas immédiatement un démenti sans appel à ce jugement ? En offrant une écoute attentive à cet argument, peut-être pour l’invalider, la notoriété de l’écrivain de la diaspora s’explique-t-elle par l’effet de proximité du champ métropolitain ? ou alors aurait-elle une plus-value certaine à mettre en lumière ? Comporte-elle une distorsion d’optique ? Si oui, laquelle ? Langues et Littératures, revue de la Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de l’Université Mohammed V de Rabat, consacre un numéro thématique à la littérature de la diaspora africaine, à paraître en 2019. 



African Literature(s) of the Diaspora: The Writer’s Postures and Rhetoric (issue coordinated by Hassan Moustir)

The journal Langues et Littératures[2]of the Faculty of Letters and Social Sciences, Mohammed V University, Rabat, Morocco, welcomes contributions for its special issue on the literature(s) of the African diaspora, to be published in 2019. The guidelines for submission are detailed below.

The position of the African writer of the diaspora is quite complex to define. Their paratope (paratopie), to use Maingueneau's (2016) term, lies in their position in-between the fields of reception and origin. At both institutional and literary levels, a phenomenon of distortion, multiple and unpredictable, often lurks behind the author of the diaspora and their writing. Let us first recall some facts that attest to this.

On 17 March 2016, at the invitation of Antoine Compagnon, the Congolese writer Alain Mabanckou gave an inaugural lecture at the Collège de France whose title suggested a rereading of the African literary history. In this brilliant lecture, Compagnon argued that the pieces of the French national narrative were in fact sewn with a black thread, a statement that was read as a complaint from the African author to the former custodian of their literature. In the same way, the manifesto “Pour une literature-monde” (“For a World Literature”) was read as the expression of the desire to dissolve Francophone literature. In Imaginary Homelands (1991), Salman Rushdie declared the Commonwealth literature dead ("Commonwealth literature" does not exist). Yet the trend today is to prioritize national literatures over the floating practices in the world landscape. A few years earlier, in 2005, the Algerian author Assia Djebar became the first (North)-African woman to be admitted as a life-long member to the French Academy. Could the author, however, maintain the language of writing in evidence, without having to" justify" its use (authors  such as Khatibi have done so before, especially in his The Language of the Other (1998))? There is no need to feel perplexed before the enigmatic case, as can be read in Ces voix qui m’assiègent 1999 (These Voices That Besiege ME 1999), an essay subtitled, « En marge de ma francophonie » (“On the Margins of My Francophonie”), and the enigmatic nostalgia for French Algeria as depicted in her novel La Disparition de la langue française (2003) (The Disappearance of the French Language, 2003). Further back in time, on June 2, 1983, Senghor was the first African author to become a life-long member of the French Academy, but his defense of a culture of Negritude was perceived as incompatible with his defense of the Francophonie.

As for the reception of the Diasporic African literature(s), and closer home, the use of irony which characterizes the works of Fouad Laroui, for example, is received differently on both sides of the Mediterranean. In one of his chronicles, Laroui sarcastically declared his intention to banish irony from his stylistic repertoire. More than an issue of literary style, the question is whether the persistent inclination to misinterpret the posture of the African diasporic author’s use of double enunciation is motivated by a cultural bias. Moreover, many African readers do not necessarily recognize themselves in a writing that, in some cases, creates the opposite effect of estrangement (depaysement), especially for those familiar with the cultural background. For such readers, no writing could match up to the organic and home-grown narratives of authors such as Najib Mahfoud, for example, whose universal acclaim was attested by the author’s attribution of the 1988 Nobel prize in literature or the depth in the writings of authors such as Sony Labou Tansi, Felix Couchoro, the South African 1991 Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer or her subsequent diasporic compatriot John Maxwell Coetzee.

A few less known authors portray as effectively the contours of an African culture and being. For the fervent local reader, the African world depicted in the works of diasporic writers is a mere narrative construction, distorted by the mirror of the West. However, the fact is that the works of African diasporic authors such as the Malagasy Raharimanana undermine this assumption. Would an attentive examination of this assumption, for example, reveal that the reputation of diasporic writers is impacted by their proximity to the metropolitan field? Does this notoriety embed an added value that needs to be highlighted or, rather, does it convey an optical distortion and if so, which one?

Reflection Axes

These preliminary observations generate a set of questions that can constitute multiple axes for reflection:

  • Is it not true that for these writers of the diaspora, who have come to Europe and elsewhere from different parts of the continent, Africa is very often their favorite fictional world?
  • Conversely, doesn’t this supposedly biased reader often consider the spatial position as an absolute value rather than a "language effect" that needs to be questioned?
  • In other words, is it enough to be elsewhere to become a writer of the diaspora, or is this condition, on the contrary, first and foremost a posture, a language and a rhetoric? - If so, and facing the structuring force of the host field, what discursive strategies do these writers adopt in favor of their own visibility? What perspective from "the Elsewhere" do they have for Africa?
  • Would the diasporic fact necessarily produce a distance effect of a critical nature? How does this effect of distance, as a catalyst of proximity, serve as motif for the various discursive constructions of belonging?
  • How would the Africa constructed by writers of the diaspora be different from the Africa depicted by non-diasporic authors?
  • What are the (double?) discourses and postures they develop towards their host culture and their culture of “origin”? Let us also think of the diasporic authors who do not have an initial (initiatory?) and direct experience of their country of “origin.”
  • What are the transformations that underline the representation of Africa when it is filtered by the position of the writer, or their dual posture?
  • What editorial effects might be impacted in the representation an “othered” African reality?
  • Wouldn’t diasporic writing ultimately be the expression of a cultural distance that is articulated in various ways, depending on the authors and their degree of proximity to the literary field of the host culture or their culture of origin?
  • Finally, what are the representations that characterize African diasporic writers, in particular in the media, from the point of view of identification, media exposure and cultural use?

Guidelines for Submission

Articles should be about 30,000 characters and should be submitted by December 15, 2018.

Following a blind-review process, the decision of the editorial board will be communicated to the authors around March 30, 2019.

References should follow the American Psychological Association style which can be accessed at: http://www.apastyle.org/

Submissions should be sent both to: Langues-et-litteratures@um5.ac.ma and hassan.moustir@um5.ac.ma

[1] Langues et Littératures adopte l’évaluation internationale par les pairs et la norme APA, accessible via le lien : http://benhur.teluq.uquebec.ca/~mcouture/apa/normes_apa_francais.pdf

[2] Langues et Littératures is an international peer-reviewed journal, it uses the APA style. The APA style can be accessed at: http://www.apastyle.org/


Jamal Eddine El Hani

Doyen de la Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines

Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc


Said Graiouid

Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc

Editorial Board

  • Hassan Belhiah, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Zakaria Boudhim, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Abdelmouneim Bounou, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Ijjou Cheikh-Moussa, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Yamina El Kirat,  Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Rachid Moursli, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Hassan Moustir, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Karima Yatribi, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc

International Advisory Board

  • Bruno Nassim Aboudrar, Paris 3, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, France
  • Taieb Belghazi, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Fawzi Boubia, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Matthias Brenzinger, Université de Cape Town, Afrique du Sud
  • miriam Cooke, Université de Duke, U.S.A.
  • Adama Coulibaly, Université Felix-Houphouët-Boigny, Côte D’Ivoire
  • Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Columbia University, U.S.A.
  • Mohamed Dahbi, Université Al Akhawayn, Maroc
  • Alfonso de Toro, Université Leipzig, Allemagne
  • Mbaye Diouf, Université McGill, Canada
  • Brian Edwards, Université Northwestern, U.S.A.
  • Ute Fendler, Université de Bayreuth, Allemagne
  • Ranjan Ghosh, Université North Bengal, India
  • Lahcen Haddad, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Dymitr Ibrizinov, Université de Bayreuth, Allemagne
  • Simona Corlan-Ioan, Roumanie
  • Deborah Kapchan, Université New York, U.S.A.
  • Nadia Kiwan, Université of Aberdeen, UK
  • Karima Laachir, SOAS Université de Londres, UK
  • Fouad Laroui, Université d’Amsterdam, NL
  • Sinfree Makoni, Université Penn State, U.S.A.
  • Ulrike Hanna Meinhof, Université de Southampton, UK
  • Hassan Mekouar, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Abdelhay Moudden, Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Maroc
  • Bruno Péquignot, Paris 3, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, France
  • Abderrahman Tenkoul, Université Ibn Tofail, Maroc  
  • Claudia Tresso, Université de Turin, Italie



  • Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco


  • Saturday, December 15, 2018


  • Afrique, diaspora, énonciation, postures, rhétoriques, positionnement, littérature-monde, postcolonial


  • Hassan Moustir
    courriel : moustirhassan [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Hassan Moustir
    courriel : moustirhassan [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Hassan Moustir
    courriel : moustirhassan [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« African literature of the diaspora », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, https://calenda.org/444084

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