“I discovered race in America and it fascinated me”: Alienation, Exile and the Discovery of Cultures in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah
Keywords:Alienation, Exile, Cultural/racial identity, Eurocentrism, Inferiority Complex, Liberalism
Depicting the economic and cultural problems facing its Nigerian immigrant protagonists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Americanah provides a great opportunity for its readers to understand the increasing appeal of the idea of cultures among immigrants in the West. It shows how the problems accompanying cultural dislocation compel even alienated individuals who previously idealized the West to embrace their cultures and move away from universal and individualistic perspectives such as liberalism. Cultural dislocation not only helps immigrants discover the importance and particularity of their own culture but also the continuing influence of cultures in the West. Further complicating the picture, however, the novel also reveals how the culture discovered by immigrants in exile is distinctly different from the culture lived and understood by their counterparts in their native country. By frankly depicting both the cultural problems facing African immigrants in a racialized America and the prevalence and negative effects of Eurocentric cultural alienation among non-Western youth, Americanah helps us understand the surprising turn to cultures and away from liberalism at the start of the twenty-first century.
Adeleke, Tunde. “Black Americans and Africa: A Critique of the Pan-African and Identity Paradigms” The International Journal of African Historical Studies. 1998. 31.3: 505-538.
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Americanah. Anchor Books, 2013.
---. The Thing Around Your Neck. Alfred. A Knopf, 2009.
---. We should All Be Feminists. New York: Anchor Books, 2014.
Arthur, John A. Invisible Sojourners: African Immigrant Diaspora in the United States. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2000.
Austin, Patrycja. “Searching for One’s Self at the Crossroads of the Cosmopolitan World: Determining the Importance of Roots for Those Who Travel through Diversities in Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah” Ostrava Journal of English Philology 7.1 (2015): 7-16.
Awokoya, Janet. “Identity Constructions and Negotiations Among 1.5- and Second-Generation Nigerians: The Impact of Family, School, and Peer Contexts”. Harvard Educational Review. Vol. 82. No. 2. Summer2012.
Barrett. A. Igoni. Blackass: A Novel. Graywolf Press, 2016.
Bady, Aaron, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “The Varieties of Blackness” Boston Review. July 10, 2013.
Bulawayo, NoViolet. We Need New Names: A Novel. Little, Brown and Company, 2013.
Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton UP, 2000.
Durkheim, Emile. Suicide: A Study in Sociology. Trans. John Spaulding and George Simpson. New York: Free Press, 1979.
Esplin, Marlene. “The Right Not to Translate: The Linguistic Stakes of Immigration in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.” Research in African Literatures 49.2 (2018): 73-86.
Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Trans. Richard Philcox. 1952. New York: Grove Press, 2008.
---. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Richard Philcox. New York: Grove Press, 2004.
Feldner, Maximilian. Narrating the New African Diaspora: 21st Century Nigerian Literature in Context. Palgrave, 2019.
Simon Gikandi’s “Foreword: On Afropolitanism.” Negotiating Afropolitanism: Essays on Borders and Spaces in Contemporary African Literature and Folklore. Ed. Jennifer Wawrzinek and J. K. S. Makokha. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010. 9–11
Herbert, Christopher. Culture and Anomie: Ethnographic Imagination in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1991.
Herring, Cedric, Verna Keith and Hayward Horton, eds. Skin Deep: How Race and Complexion Matter in the “Color-Blind” Era. University of Illinois P. 2004.
Jha, Meeta, The Global Beauty Industry: Colorism, Racism and the National Body. New York: Routledge, 2016.
Kellaway, Kate, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘My New Novel Is about Love, Race... and Hair’.” The Guardian, 6 Apr. 2013.
Levi-Strauss, Claude. The View From Afar. Trans. Joachim Neugroschel and Phoebe Hoss. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1992.
Mbue, Imbolo. Behold the Dreamers. Random House, 2016
Mehta, Uday Singh. Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1999.
Ndibe, Okey. Foreign Gods, Inc. Soho. New York, 2014.
---. Never Look an American in the Eye: Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, And The Making of a Nigerian American. Soho. New York, 2016.
Nesbitt, F. Njubi. “African Intellectuals in the Belly of the Beast: Migration, Identity, and the Politics of Exile.” African Issues 30.1 (2002): 70–75.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. 1986. James Curry, 2003.
Norwood, Kimberly Jade. Color Matters: Skin Tone Bias and the Myth of Post-Racial America. New York: Routledge, 2014.
NPR staff and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “A Nigerian-’Americanah’ Novel About Love, Race And Hair” NPR. May 11, 2013.
Ochonu, Moses E. “Looking for Race: Pigmented Pasts and Colonial Mentality in ‘Non Racial’ Africa” Relating Worlds of Racism: Dehumanization, Belonging, and the Normativity of European Whiteness. Ed. Philomena Essed et al. Palgrave, 2019.
Oguine, Ike. A Squatter's Tale. Oxford: Heinemann, 2000.
Okin, Susan Moller. “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?” Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? Ed. Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard and Martha Nussbaum. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1999. 7-26.
Pyke, Karen. “What is Internalized Racial Oppression and Why Don’t We Study It? Acknowledging Racism’s Hidden Injuries.” Sociological Perspectives 53.4 (2010): 551-575.
Selasi, Taiye. 2005. “Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What Is an Afropolitan?)”. The LIP Magazine. http://thelip.robertsharp.co.uk/?p=76. Accessed 15 Mar 2020.
Shohat, Ella and Robert Stam, eds. Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Taylor, Charles. “The Politics of Recognition.” Philosophical Arguments. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1995. 225-256.
Taylor, Jack. “Language, Race, and Identity in Adichie’s Americanah and Bulowayo’s We Need New Names.” Research in African Literatures 50.2 (2019): 68-85.
Wagner, Roy. The Invention of Culture. Revised Ed. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1981.
Williams, Raymond. Key Words: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Revised Ed. Oxford UP, 1986.
Yunxiang Yan “McDonald’s in Beijing: The Localization of Americana” Goldern Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia. Ed. James Watson. Stanford UP, 1997. 38-76.