World Visions in Swahili Literature

In: Journal of World Literature
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  • 1 Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle

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Abstract

Probably because of its relationship with a coastal culture, Swahili literature seems very aware of its position in the world. Through a reading of Swahili poems and novels across a range of genres, this paper explores the ways in which Swahili writers have engaged in a dialogue with the whole world, from the colonial period to the contemporary era. The evolution of well-identified literary forms such as epic poetry, ethnographic novel or crime novel will also pave the way for identifying the specificities of a Swahili cosmopolitanism anxious to cultivate an art of living in the age of a kind of globalization whose effects are often harshly felt at the local level. Because it has long developed an awareness of the world, Swahili literature has often pioneered the invention of literary forms that are able to translate locally the movements of the world.

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