The Commute: The Bend in Progress, Reproduction on The Road



This chapter is about Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka’s 1965 play The Road as a play about commuting. In particular, I argue that The Road takes up commuting as a moment of transition between the working day and the day without work, between the hope of progress and the despair of deindustrialization, between production and anti-production, or the break-down of the machine in the space of reproduction. The play is critical of the postcolonial state for its failures to deliver on the road to prosperity, and, at the same time, it presents the coming-apart of old paradigms of progress through work and gives a sense of their replacement by a metaphysics of indebtedness, or sacrifice to the gods. The Road magnifies the marginal social situation of Nigeria’s drivers (touts) that becomes the dominant paradigm of global labor under a later era financial globalization. The Road thus stands at the crux between local and global culture, between nostalgia for old class alliances and archaic ritualistic practices on the one hand and, on the other, a recognition of new forms of global accumulation

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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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