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Writing/Reading in Extremity : Body Politics and the Figure of Death in Sony Labou Tansi's The Shameful State

Title data

Ndi, Gilbert Shang:
Writing/Reading in Extremity : Body Politics and the Figure of Death in Sony Labou Tansi's The Shameful State.
In: International Journal of Arts and Humanities. Vol. 1 (2012) Issue 5 . - pp. 68-73.

Abstract in another language

The phenomenon of violence constitutes a universal human scourge. Even in contexts with a certain level of historical, political and social advancement, violence threatens to overturn what society has taken considerable time to realize. Due to its complexity and the fact it is underlined by a distension of motifs, its representations in painting, plastic arts, poetry and fictional narratives encounter immense ethical and esthetic challenges. This study examined the question of the representation of human violence in Sony Labou Tansi’s L’Etat Honteux (The Shameful State), a post-independence African dictatorship novel. The central investigation concerned the violent transfiguration and dispossession of the subject’s body by political technologies of death. Our analysis was related to Achille Mbembe’s concept of ‘necropolitics’ whereby sovereignty degenerates into the division of subject bodies into those who have to live and those who must die. The textual analyses led to a number of findings. As the structure within which territorial sovereignty is exercised, the figure and moral legitimacy of the State in the postcolonial novel has turned to be problematic where its structures have been misappropriated by personalist leaders. Secondly, Labou Tansi’s representation of violence involves an intricate relationship with politics, racialism and sexuality which lead to the reification of the subject’s body. The study concluded that Labou Tansi’s (re)creative use of language and his atavistic metaphorical system trace the colonial othering of the native subject as the basis for understanding modern postcolonial violence. More so the unnatural narrative voice in L’Etat Honteux seeks to underline the nadir of human abjection, to dispute romanticist discourse of human progress and to underline the urgency of the rethinking of our modernity.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: body; violence; state; marginality
Institutions of the University: Graduate Schools > Bayreuth Graduate School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences (BayNAT)
Graduate Schools > BIGSAS
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 800 Literature > 890 Other literatures
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2020 09:51
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2020 09:51
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/58683