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Contributors: BELCHER, WENDY
Department: Comparative Literature
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: This senior thesis undertakes readings of sections of the Yorùbá text, Odù Ifá, and makes an argument on the Yorùbá cosmological conception of power dynamics. I apply this reading of power in explicating gender politics in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel Nervous Conditions. The first major analytical sections focus on Yorùbá orature, especially the peculiar subgenre of divination verses in the Odù Ifá. The analysis pays special attention to the sections Odù Ọ̀sá Méjì, Odù Èjì Ogbé and Odù Ọ̀ṣẹ́ Òtúrá as well as to proverbs, folktales, and aphorisms, and suggests that power within the universe is elaborated on dialogic principles of equilibrium dynamics, esotericism, indeterminacy and realness. In so doing, this work probes the nature of Yorùbá world forming – its ideology and its methods of construction– especially as it pertains to how language shows thought and power. The second major analytical section focusses on Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, one of the most assigned and studied African novels, which scholars often discuss as emblematic of the “oppression of African women”. In contrast, I offer an analysis of its female characters from the philosophical perspective revealed in Yorùbá cosmology, which accounts for the disconcerting inverse correlation between increased socio-political capital and decreased psychosocial agency in the lives of the women in Dangarembga’s text. I suggest that the cosmological physics of equilibrium dynamics within an intermutual framework makes isolated transformations in individual situations untenable. By asserting the Yorùbá cosmological principles by which all agent-entities are inextricably bound to a shared universe, this analysis provides a new paradigm for thinking about questions pertaining to identity construction, social relations and power dynamics.
Extent: 98 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature, 1975-2017

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