Gendered hauntings: The joys of motherhood, interpretive acts, and postcolonial theory

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This essay examines varying representations of "in-between" spaces within the colonial context in order to consider the complex politics of interpretation. By counterposing Buchi Emecheta's Joys of Motherhood and Homi Bhabha's concept of hybridity, it interrogates their divergent constructions of colonial liminality as well as the sources of such differences. While Bhabha's spatialized analytical approach facilitates a productive reading of this Nigerian novel, Emecheta's construction of colonial life stands at odds with the more celebratory conclusions arrived at in Bhabha's work. One pivotal point of difference revolves around gender. The spirits and instances of haunting found in Emecheta's text not only help us map out where interpretation, gender, and considerations of justice converge, within and beyond the text; they also flag the problems with interpretive acts when gender dynamics remain unaccounted for or hidden. Such issues, I suggest (following Avery Gordon), force us to consider more complex constructions of identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-92
Number of pages17
JournalResearch in African Literatures
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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