The Ethics of Dissident Desire in Southern African Writing

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Dobrota Pucherová

The Ethics of Dissident Desire in Southern African Writing

ISBN 978-3-86821-337-9, 182 S., kt., € 23,00 (2011)

(LuKA - Literaturen und Kulturen Afrikas, Bd. 2)

Desire has had notoriously negative connotations in southern African contexts due to its association with racialized and gendered violence as part of the region’s experience of settler colonialism. In this book, desire in South African and Zimbabwean fiction and poetry written between 1960-2005 is re-evaluated as a positive force that can contravene the racially exclusive identity discourses of the region’s history. In a context where rationalism failed to offer ways out of colonial violence, affective impulses towards the other – associated here with Levinas’ eros, as well as Derrida’s friendship and hospitality – become a boundary-breaking energy that can redefine both the body and the nation. Through the trope of dissident desire, the creolisation and hybridity of culture and identity in southern Africa is emphasized, placing the region at a crossroads of cultures and as part of a cosmopolitan community. The study has implications for recent developments in South African and Zimbabwean history and politics, where racial and ethnic nationalisms are seen to have clandestinely entered the discourses of multiculturalism and development. The book will draw interest from readers and researchers of African and postcolonial writing; of theories of nationalism, cosmopolitanism, southern African history and historiography; and of ethics, psychoanalysis, feminism and queer theory in literary studies.

Buchvorschau / Inhaltsverzeichnis (pdf)


"Dobrota Pucherová' s monograph, The Ethics of Dissident Desire in Southern African Writing, is a carefully conceived and well-argued critical and theoretical work that extends the scope of scholarship and debate in Southern African literary studies. In its architecture, in its innovative regional and transnational focus, and in its key arguments, the monograph is a considered, informed and valuable contribution."

Brendon Nicholls, Journal of Southern African Studies 39.3 (2013)

"In her book The Ethics of Dissident Desire in Southern African Writing, Dobrota Pucherová brings together ethical and postcolonial criticism in an analysis of desire in the literature of South Africa and Zimbabwe after 1960. Taking her lead from the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, desire is calibrated as an ethical movement toward the other that renders one’s self and identity vulnerable. In the context of increasing xenophobia in southern Africa, with recent fresh threats to foreigners in South Africa in early September, this is an important study. Adding to our understanding of the authors considered, it additionally makes a valuable contribution toward reorganizing the theoretical framework for understanding the operation of desire in postcolonial southern African literatures. It will therefore be of interest to scholars working within southern African literature as well as ethical criticism more broadly."

Vincent van Bever Donker, Research in African Literatures 44.1 (2013)

"One of the most exhilarating aspects of this bold new text by Dobrota Pucherová is the extraordinary feat of transnational ventriloquism that underlies its authorship. A watershed study that should be included in public libraries across South Africa and beyond."

Alexandra Dodd, Journal of Postcolonial Writing 7.6 (2012)