The social function of writing in post-war Sierra Leone: poetry as a discourse for peace

Skelt, Joanna Kay (2014). The social function of writing in post-war Sierra Leone: poetry as a discourse for peace. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis considers how creative writing contributes to social recovery and conflict transformation and uses Sierra Leone as a test case. In order to do this, existing theory in relation to the role of the writer and conflict in Africa is examined and a detailed social and literary context outlined. The civil war of 1991-2002 prompted a poetic outpouring amongst new and existing creative writers despite a chronic lack of readership. Interviews with poets based in the capital, Freetown, reveal strong social motivations to write combined with heightened feelings of agency experienced as writers. An examination of texts provides insights into the process of recovery amongst Sierra Leone’s writer-intellectuals. These combined investigations suggest that writing offers an important location for peaceful counter debate and for re-imagining and recreating the nation in the aftermath of war. Poetry texts and discussions amongst writers come to represent a significant discourse for peace. The very practice of writing in a severely impoverished environment offers a radical form of social engagement while writing in English serves as a unifying force. This thesis contributes a new sociological perspective on literature and conflict which may be transferable to other post-war and volatile settings.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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