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“The self and the world against which it had to live”: Neocolonialism and the resistant subject in Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born

Jilani, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-0024-4801 (2020). “The self and the world against which it had to live”: Neocolonialism and the resistant subject in Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 56(1), pp. 83-96. doi: 10.1080/17449855.2019.1701067

Abstract

Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born has been read in terms of its political criticism of the native elite in Nkrumah’s post-independence Ghana, and for its treatment of individual consciousness – but these elements have been treated largely in isolation from each other. This article argues that the novel establishes a nuanced interdependency between subjectivity and the material everyday of neocolonialism, grounding its exploration of the psychic strain of such conditions on its exposé of Ghana’s neocolonial economy. Defining subjectivity in Fanonian terms, it argues that the multi-temporality of Beautyful Ones, and its treatment of its protagonist’s interiority, illustrate how the self and its socio-economic conditions are mutually constitutive, explanatory and effectual. The neocolonial circumstances that Armah’s protagonist navigates each day equip him with the consciousness to historicize his psychic malaise. In this way, the novel gestures towards what a resistant subject, responsive to such corrupt conditions, might be.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Journal of Postcolonial Writing. Sarah Jilani (2020) “The self and the world against which it had to live”: Neocolonialism and the resistant subject in Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 56:1, 83-96. It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Ayi Kwei Armah; African literature; neocolonialism; subjectivity; postcolonialism; Frantz Fanon
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > English
Date available in CRO: 29 Sep 2021 10:56
Date deposited: 29 September 2021
Date of first online publication: 19 December 2019
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/26822
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