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Date of Award
Dissertation-ISU Access Only
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of English: English Studies
Cynthia A. Huff
This dissertation examines and analyzes some of Sierra Leone’s post-civil-war memoirs which were published after that country’s eleven-year civil war (1991 – 2002) as examples of narratives that appropriate the other’s story and misrepresent the other’s culture and history through cross-cultural collaboration in life writing. It shows how such cross-cultural collaboration, often, leads to these memoirs’ univocal perspective of the internal causes of the civil war. But this dissertation also shows how through a postmodern inter-textual narrative reading method—that is, reading multiple memoirs that talk about the civil war in addition to other sources like historical accounts, essays about global economics and politics, and essays about trauma—a complex story about Sierra Leone’s civil war, inevitably, emerges. This story incorporates both its internal and external causes as my analysis of In Sierra Leone in chapter four shows. Thus, my dissertation challenges and subverts Western and indigenous monolithic narratives about the Sierra Leonean civil war by offering alternative ways of reading/seeing that war. Such
a project not only contributes knowledge to an emerging field of war memoirs in life writing, it also theorizes the self in a war-torn context and the foreign self in transit.
In my engagement with post-civil-war memoirs of Sierra Leone and how these narratives help situate the analysis of global phenomena such as transnationalism, transculturation, and transmigration through their cross-cultural collaborative production, I also examine the ideological tensions that exist between self-representation and biographical representations of others. In other words, in cross-cultural collaborative contexts, the personal desire to tell one’s story about one’s self is, mostly, in conflict with a foreign writer’s perception of that self. Thus, my dissertation, on the one hand, examines how the choice of genre that carries such stories facilitates or limits self-representation or the representation of others. However, on the other hand, I also show how the ideological perception of the other’s culture as backward and undeveloped can derail the process of collaboration and interfere with self-representation. In light of the above, I analyze Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2008) and Mariatu Kamara’s memoir, The Bite of the Mango (2010), jointly written with Susan McClelland, as examples of works that illustrate the tension between self-representation and biographical representation of others in cross-cultural collaborative contexts and foreground internal causes of the war.
Kamara, Samuel Alpha Sonny, "Life Writing the Civil War of Sierra Leone: Appropriation, ( Mis ) Representation, and Erasure" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 684.