Mobilities and Cosmopolitanisms in African and Afrodiasporic Literatures


In Mobilities and Cosmopolitanisms in African and Afrodiasporic Literatures, Anna-Leena Toivanen explores the representations and relationship of mobilities and cosmopolitanisms in Franco- and Anglophone African and Afrodiasporic literary texts from the 1990s to the 2010s. Representations of mobility practices are discussed against three categories of cosmopolitanism reflecting the privileged, pragmatic, and critical aspects of the concept.
The main scientific contribution of Toivanen’s book is its attempt to enhance dialogue between postcolonial literary studies and mobilities research. The book criticises reductive understandings of ‘mobility’ as a synonym for migration, and problematises frequently made links between mobility and cosmopolitanism. Mobilities and Cosmopolitanisms adopts a comparative approach to Franco- and Anglophone African and Afrodiasporic literatures, often discussed separately despite their common themes and parallel paths.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Anna-Leena Toivanen, Ph.D. (2010), University of Jyväskylä, is Academy Research Fellow at the University of Eastern Finland and a former MSCA-IF Fellow. Her research on African and Afrodiasporic literatures has been published in diverse international peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes.

 1 Mobility and Cosmopolitanism: Complex Relations, Shortcomings, and Unease
 2 Mobilities, Representation, and the Literary Form
 3 Outline of the Book and Chapter Summaries

Trouble in the Business Class

1 Anxious Mobilities of Afropolitans avant la lettre Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story
 1 Automobility: Undecidedness in the Streets of Accra
 2 Hotels as In-between Spaces
 3 Transnational Business Class Travel: Afropolitans avant la lettre
 4 Conclusion: Freedom of Movement?

2 The Hotel as a Space of Transit in Sefi Atta’s and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Short Stories
 1 Atta’s Hotel: A Chronotope of Hypermobility, Inequality, and Unbelonging
 2 Adichie’s Hotel Room: Adulterous Space between the Domestic and the Public
 3 Conclusion: Being in Transit, Longing for Home

3 Uneasy ‘Homecoming’ in Alain Mabanckou’s Lumières de Pointe-Noire
 1 Returnee: A Tourist-Native
 2 Nostalgia and Loss
 3 Returned Gazes, Unbalanced Dialogues
 4 Blind Spot behind the Camera: La blanche
 5 Conclusion: Problematics of a Business Class Return

Budget Travels, Practical Cosmopolitanisms

4 New Technologies and Communication Gaps in Novels by Liss Kihindou, Véronique Tadjo, NoViolet Bulawayo, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
 1 Formal Matters: The Mobile Poetics of Communication Technologies
 2 Technological Advances – From Letters to Email and Skype
 3 Creating Distance: Communication Gaps
 4 Conclusion: Ruptured Dialogues and Unbalanced Cosmopolitanisms

5 Everyday Urban Mobilities in Michèle Rakotoson’s Elle, au printemps and Alain Mabanckou’s Tais-toi et meurs
 1 Cartographies of Paris
 2 Débrouillardise Cosmopolitanism: Survival in a New Environment
 3 Peripheral Dead Ends
 4 Conclusion: Managing the Metropolis through Mobility

6 European Peripheries and Practical Cosmopolitanism in Fabienne Kanor’s Faire l’aventure
 1 Peripheries and the Dream of “la grosse Europe
 2 Débrouillardise Cosmopolitanism: Limits and Potentials
 3 Conclusion: Out of Reach? Centres and Cosmopolitan Ideals

Abject Travels of Citizens of Nowhere

7 Failing Border Crossings and Cosmopolitanism in Brian Chikwava’s Harare North
 1 Cosmopolitanism as an Active Engagement
 2 Instances of Anti-cosmopolitanism
 3 Non-dialogue and Linguistic Nonconformity
 4 Parodying the Afropolitan
 5 Abject Unbelonging
 6 Conclusion: Cosmopolitanism’s Breakdown

8 Arrested Clandestine Odysseys in Sefi Atta’s “Twilight Trek” and Marie NDiaye’s Trois femmes puissantes
 1 Erased Identities
 2 Tropes of Mobility: Shoes, Trucks, and Boats
 3 Sand and Sea: The Slavery Parallel
 4 Conclusion: Precarious Journeys

9 Zombie Travels
J. R. Essomba’s Le Paradis du nord and Caryl Phillips’s A Distant Shore
 1 Tropes of Zombifying Mobilities: Hiding, Confinement, Dehumanisation, and Darkness
 2 Not Feeling It: Lost Selves, Lost Emotions
 3 Europe and the Failures of Cosmopolitanism
 4 Eliminating the Zombie
 5 Conclusion: The Poetics of Zombification


Scholars working in the fields of postcolonial and African literary studies and academics interested in the interdisciplinary dialogue between mobilities research and the humanities.
  • Collapse
  • Expand