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Grant number: FT-254859-17

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Matthew J. Christensen
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (Edinburg, TX 78539-2909)

The State and the Individual Subject in African Detective Fiction

Research leading to publication of a book on the role of detective novels in social and political debate in twentieth-century Africa.

Unsovereign Bodies: The State and the Individual Subject in African Detective Fiction traces the history of the detective genre as a mode of critique in Anglophone African writing. By playing on narrative codes that promise full disclosure of criminal deception and justice for hardworking, innocent individuals, Anglophone African writers, I argue, have transformed the detective novel’s ideological preoccupation with liberal capitalism and its discontents into a broader critical engagement with the collectivist ideals of decolonization, the valences of vulnerability, and the untenable governmentalities available to the postcolony. For their local readerships, the novels consequently ask how do individuals and communities manage risk and resources given the radical instability of the sovereignty of the state and rights-bearing citizen?

Project fields:
African Literature; African Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2017 – 7/31/2017