Exploring the Transnational American novel: Identity and Race in Open City and Americanah

dc.contributor.advisorBak, H.
dc.contributor.advisorRoza, M.
dc.contributor.authorSimons, I.P.R.
dc.description.abstractThis Master’s thesis explores the construction of identity and race in transnational American novels. It subsequently aims to answer the question: How are the construction of identity and race portrayed in Teju Cole’s Open City (2011) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013)? Both novels have been written by Nigerian-American authors with ties to Nigeria, the US, and other places around the globe. As a result, their novels are transnational in nature, and they primarily cover themes including migration, transnational border crossings, global citizenship, identity formation, race, and racism. The novels have often been analyzed in relation to postcolonial or diasporic themes. This thesis, however, takes this a step further and analyzes the construction of identity and race in both novels through the lens of postcolonial theory as extended by transnationalism. Postcolonial theory and theorizations of a black diasporic identity and Afropolitanism are used for the analysis of identity construction in the novels, while racial formation theory and Cole and Adichie’s personal essays on race in America are used to examine the construction of race in both novels. The findings demonstrate that the protagonists’ identities are portrayed as complex, multilayered identities that are shaped through transnational border-crossings and ties to multiple countries and cultures. This suggest that postcolonial theory alone is insufficient to gain a full understanding of the complex and multifaceted identities of the novels’ protagonists that are, or at least, move towards transnational identities rather than post-colonial identities. The findings also illustrate that race is a hegemonic, normative, American social construction that is engrained in American society and, therefore, most Americans are unaware of this. It, consequently, implies that the outsider’s perspective on America’s race politics as provided by these transnational American novels are of pivotal importance to gain a thorough understanding of the extent to which race and racial hierarchies structure American society and culture. Key words Teju Cole, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Post-colonialism, Transnational American novel, Hybridity, Identity, Race, Racial Formation Theory, Afropolitanismen_US
dc.thesis.facultyFaculteit der Letterenen_US
dc.thesis.specialisationLiteratures and Cultures of North America in International Perspectiveen_US
dc.thesis.studyprogrammeMaster North American Studiesen_US
dc.titleExploring the Transnational American novel: Identity and Race in Open City and Americanahen_US
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