Collection Essays Literature Women of Colour

Motherlands: Black Women’s Writing from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia

Motherlands: Black Women’s Writing
from Africa, the Caribbean
and South Asia
Shusheila NastaThe Women’s Press1991

This collection of essays demonstrates the links in women’s creative works from different global areas, specifically as demonstrated in their attempts to discover new forms and languages to express women’s experiences in patriarchal societies and to subvert continuing traditional, colonial, and neo-colonial gender stereotypes.

Motherlands is the first critical work to compare and contrast women’s writing in English from Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia.  Although critical attention has recently focused on and applauded the work of such Afro-American writers as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Gloria Naylor, and others, and although we are just beginning to look at the writings of Caribbean women, there are many excellent women writers in other parts of the world whose voices are just beginning to be heard. Their writings are important to developing theory on writings by women of color. That theory, in turn, has opened a dialogue with and a critique of feminist theories about women’s writing, which frequently universalize in a manner that excludes women of color. This book is a major contribution to that debate.
      The contributors to this volume reexamine the mythology of “motherhood” already well explored in feminist literary debate, applying these ideas for the first time to a burgeoning post-colonial literature. The writers discussed include Bessie Head, Jean Rhys, Ama Ata Aidoo, Joan Riley, Olive Senior, Nayantara Sahgal and Nawal el Sa’adawi. Each is considered both within her own “mother-culture” and alongside her literary sisters worldwide.
     The contributors are Ranjana Ash, Elleke Boehmer, Jane Bryce, Abena Busia, Shirley Chew, Carolyn Cooper, Margaret M. Dunn, Elaine Savory Fido, Lyn Innes, Helen Kanitkar, Valery Kibera, Ann R. Morris, Judy Newman, Laura Niesen de Abruna, Velma Pollard, Caroline Rooney, and Isabel Carrera Suarez.

A warning printed on this provocative and illuminating collection of essays might read: only those able to deal in doubler – or even triple – discourse should enter here. In the spirit of that warning, the preface begins with an extract from “Discourse on the Logic of Language,” by Marlene Nourbese Philip, to introduce the reader to at least three readings of how English as “mother tongue” has distorted the Black woman’s experience. All the essays employ similar multiple layers.

Diane Engber

Table of Contents

… Preface: An extract from ‘Discourse on the Logic of Language’
… Introduction

Breaking the Silence: New Stories of Women and Mothers
… Stories of Women and Mothers: Gender and Nationalism in the Early Fiction of Flora Nwapap
… The Untold Story and the Retold Story: Intertextuality in Post-Colonial Women’s Fiction
… Searching Voices: Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day and Nayantara Sahgal’s Rich Like Us
… ‘Something Ancestral Recaptured’: Spirit Possession as Trope in Selected Feminist Fictions of the African Diaspora
… Rebellions Women: Fictional Biographies – Nawal el Saadawi’s Woman at Point Zero and Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter
… ‘Dangerous Knowledge’ and the Poetics of Survival: A Reading of Our Sister Killjoy and A Question of Power

… Mothers or Sisters? Identity, Discourse and Audience in the Writing of Ama Ata Aidoo and Mariama Ba
… The Search For Freedom in Indian Women’s Writing
… ‘Heaven Lies beneath her Feet’? Mother Figures in Selected Indo-Anglian Novels
… Motherhood as a Metaphor for Creativity in Three African Women’s Novels: Flora Nwapa, Rebeka Njau and Bessie Head
… ‘The Bloodstream of Our Inheritance’: Female Identity and the Caribbean Mothers’-Land
… Mothertongue Voices in the Writing of Olive Senior and Loma Goodison

Absent and Adopted Mother(land)s
… Family Connections: Mother and Mother Country in the Fiction of Jean Rhys and Jamaica Kincaid
… Absent Mother(Land)s: Joan Riley’s Fiction
… Adopted Motherlands: The Novels of Marjorie Macgoye and Bessie Head
… Mother/lands: Self and Separation in the Work of Buchi Emecheta, Bessie Head and Jean Rhys