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October 29 "coffee hour" presentation

On Wednesday, October 29, Njeri Githire will present "Contextualizing Regional Identity and Literary Imaginary: East Africa and the Indian Ocean" from 2:30-4:00 in the Geneva H. Southall Library (Social Sciences Tower 815). [Presentation Abstract]

The Indian Ocean provides important trade routes that have always connected the Middle East, Asia, and Africa into a network of communities with shared interests. Nevertheless, European presence from the sixteenth century onwards changed Indian Ocean life irrevocably. Thriving kingdoms were subdued and former relationships between religions and races thrown into disarray. With the advent of western capitalism, ancient patterns of trade soon became as extinct, almost entirely forgotten.

Githire's presentation will look at the ways in which regional writers represent the ties that bind the region into a viable community, and speak to realities that surpass colonial and nationalist categories. Indeed, if categorizing western Indian Ocean as a region of literary inquiry seems to defy neat, absolute labels, one thing remains constant: the region is invariably explored as a francophone entity. This being said, the East Africa/Indian Ocean coastal trade complex &mdash which predates colonial interference in the region &mdash coalesced frequent exchanges between the islands and the African mainland into regional networks of organizations, and communities of people with interrelated interests. It is, therefore, imperative and quite necessary to identify those regional traits that transcend territorial and linguistic claims. Failure to do so only perpetuates a different kind of colonial project: maintaining linguistic boundaries, reinforcing crucial distinctions of imperial nature.