Gendering the nation: women, men and fiction in Guinea-Bissau

Frascina, Francesca (2014). Gendering the nation: women, men and fiction in Guinea-Bissau. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.


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The significance of gender to depictions of the nation is a significant discussion within African fiction. Guinea-Bissau, however, has been somewhat neglected. This thesis will re-dress this imbalance by juxtaposing Abdulai Sila’s Mistida trilogy with fiction by Filomena Embaló, Domingas Samy and Odete Semedo. It considers the symbolic representations of women in Sila’s work, where he writes the colonised nation upon the female body, and attempts to create women’s agency by inscribing them with future power. However he simultaneously eradicates their historical importance. I explore the narratives of female-authored fiction and argue that whilst there is a tendency to write about inequality in the domestic space, women are equally concerned with discussing national identity and experience through the prism of the intimate. I revisit Sila to examine the significance of masculinities to his narration of the nation. He repeatedly complicates the image of a national hero in texts that connect Guinea-Bissau to global black masculinities and inscribe the crises of the post-independence nation upon the male body. Insofar as the literary imaginary contributes to the construction of nationhood in Guinea-Bissau, this thesis demonstrates that the negotiation of gender symbolism and power relations are intrinsic to this process in fiction.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania


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