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Confronting Heteronormativity in Postcolonial Zimbabwean Literature

Mongiat, Timothy (2017) Confronting Heteronormativity in Postcolonial Zimbabwean Literature. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:66341)

Language: English
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This project addresses the settler colonial context of Rhodesia and postcolonial Zimbabwe, and investigates the nature of, and relationship between, gender and sexual norms and colonialism through early postcolonial literary responses. Literature is not merely examined as a source of representation, but as an element of discourse which reflects and shapes norms. I analyse how writers police and reiterate heteronorms, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, and how they resist and contest the realities and logic of heteronormativity.

Robert Mugabe's now infamous homophobic outbursts in 1995 dehumanised homosexuals through references to dogs and pigs, and associated same-sex sexuality with American and European contexts. His rhetoric articulated a form of heteronormative nationalism which politicised the memory of colonialism, but also represented a significant discursive change in Zimbabwean society. Homosexuality, previously submerged by a culture of discretion and repression, had moved from the domain of the unspoken to the spoken, and from an invisible to a visible presence. Previously, references to homosexuality had been absent from public discourse in the postcolonial and much of the colonial period, and in Zimbabwean literature until the 1990s. Yet Dambudzo Marechera's controversial and progressive writing provided an exception - he explicitly represented the same-sex sexuality suggested by homoerotic depictions in other writing, but which was not portrayed.

This offers an example of the way I approach literature in this thesis - I view writing as a means of representation, but also as an element of discourse which reflects, shapes, and contests ideas and norms. Discourse, following the work of multiple poststructural theorists, is conceived of as a constitutive form which produces and limits subjects and expression, but which is subject to a persistent threat of reconstitution. My project, which explores the articulation of heteronormativity in postcolonial writing until the 1990s, is intersectional, and documents the relation between modes of oppression. Accordingly, gender constructions are examined and related to the articulation of normative heterosexuality, and to other signifiers, especially notions of race and ethnicity integral to the settler colonial context of Rhodesia and to Zimbabwean society. Colonialism is discussed throughout, and I examine and problematise the represented relationship between heteronormativity and the violent material, discursive, and psychological products of colonialism, and postcolonial nationalisms. My project aims to satisfy the need for a composite intersectional study examining heteronormativity in Zimbabwean literature.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Gurnah, Abdulrazak
Thesis advisor: Stirrup, David
Uncontrolled keywords: Heteronormativity, Postcolonial, Zimbabwe, Southern Rhodesia, Colonial, Intersectionality, Poststructuralism, Gender Theory, Queer Theory, Marechera, Vera
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2018 16:10 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2022 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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