Revolution and Revolt: Identitarian Space, Magic, and the Land in Decolonial Latin American and African Writing

  • Juan Manuel Ávila Conejo
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


This paper examines the relationship between the African and Latin American narratives of revolution and how they relate to geography, traditions, and spiritual beliefs as portrayed in post-1940s literature. It examines the works of several African writers, including Kateb Yacine’s Les Ancêtres redoublent de férocité, Assia Djebar’s Rouge l’aube, Cheik Aliou Ndao L’exil d’albouri and Tchicaya U Tamsi’s Shaka le Zulu. For the Latin American side I picked Alejo Carpentier’s El reino de este mundo, Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien anos de soledad, Carlos Luis Fallas’ Mamita Yunai, Jesús Díaz’s Las iniciales de la tierra, and Cesaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal. The main topics of analysis revolve around the loss of land and subsequent cultural transformation during the colonial period, and later the process of recovering this identitary space while describing the elements of this process: magic, the landscape, and the elders, both living and dead. Using a comparative methodology, the author proposes that these similarities exist due to geographical, historical, and economic causes, but mainly land dispossession. The situation of landlessness is interpreted through a number of ideas stemming independently from precolonial as well as postcolonial worlds, which are present in both bodies of literature, and which resist the modernizing projects of colonialism and neocolonialism; these concepts include the notion of cyclical time, the sacrality of the environment, and the primacy of the community; and they help explain the myriad of similarities in the overarching preoccupations of such a wide range of works.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Manuel Ávila Conejo
    • 1
  1. 1.New York UniversityNew York CityUSA

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