In he was imprisoned after his most controversial work, Ngaahika Ndeenda I Will Marry When I Want , produced in Nairobi, sharply criticized the injustices of Kenyan society and unequivocally championed the causes of ordinary citizens. Following his release, Ngugi decided to write only in his native Gikuyu, communicating with Kenyans in one of the many languages of their daily lives, and today he is known as one of the most outspoken intellectuals working in postcolonial theory and the global postcolonial movement. Yet his explorations remain grounded in his own experiences with literature and orature and reworks the difficult dialectics of theory into richly evocative prose. Part memoir, part magisterial survey, and entirely engrossing, this book is a capstone to a long and brilliant career.
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Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing. New York: Columbia University Press. Rochester, NY: James Currey.
He began his career as a writer in the s and, through his criticism, became a leading advocate for a critical rethinking of the legacies of colonial domination and its accompanying epistemologies. This is especially the case in the choice of the material discussed: none of the essays touch on the cultural production of the twenty-first century.
In the piece on African cinema, for example, the most recent film discussed is from and Ngugi makes only brief reference to the rise of Nollywood and video production, leaving out the proliferation of digital technologies that are reshaping cinema around the globe. The globe here stands for a radical reorganization of epistemological frameworks, and this makes possible the location of so-called ephemeral forms of knowing including orature and performance at the center of world literature and culture.
While the language used to define globalectics at times approaches the mystical, at its core there is a call for a critical self-consciousness. As Ngugi writes a little later, globalectics calls for letting the act of reading become a process of critical self-examination It is, ultimately, a reading practice for which the essays in this collection function as a performative example.
A key connecting thread that runs through the essays in Globalectics is the story of the proposal, made by Ngugi and fellow faculty members in , that the English Department at the University of Nairobi be replaced with a Department of Literature. But it remains unclear how exactly we might distinguish austerity or simplicity in ornamentation from elisions or oversights.
But there are also instances in which explicit engagement with certain critics and critical discourses might have enriched the argument. It remains to be seen where Ngugi and others will take globalectics.
She is also the guest editor for a forthcoming issue of the journal The Global South. From now on it is Gikuyu and Kiswahili all the way. Prior to his arrest, Ngugi had published novels critical of the Kenyan government Petals of Blood, , advocated for the creation of a Department of Literature at the University of Nairobi where he was on the faculty , and collaborated on the creation of Gikuyu-language theatre. This detention proved a turning point.
In the years that followed, he became a leading advocate for writing in African languages. This critical stance was cemented in a series of essay collections, including Decolonizing the Mind. Help secure the future of our fearless artists, scholars, and activists from across the Americas. Support the work of the Hemispheric Institute. About Us The Hemispheric Institute connects artists, scholars, and activists from across the Americas and creates new avenues for collaboration and action.
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Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing. New York: Columbia University Press. Rochester, NY: James Currey. He began his career as a writer in the s and, through his criticism, became a leading advocate for a critical rethinking of the legacies of colonial domination and its accompanying epistemologies.