Re-examining Settler Discourse in Alexandra Fuller’s Autobiographical Writing

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Abstract

Since 2000, a large number of memoirs by white Zimbabwean writers have emerged, often focusing on the complex relationship between history and the present, between personal and collective identity, and on displacement and nostalgia. One such memoir is Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller (published in 2002). Recent criticism has focused on the discourse in the memoir, arguing that it represents settler discourse (or Rhodesian discourse) and draws on colonial imagery and ideology. This view is based on the memoir’s representation of nostalgia and belonging in southern Africa. This article challenges some of these notions and suggests that the question is whether the memoir performs or portrays colonial ideology, and in what ways. Furthermore, “settler discourse” has not been properly defined in this context, despite being widely applied. Redefining settler discourse in the context of Fuller’s memoir raises questions about white Zimbabwean writing in general, and demonstrates how inherently controversial the literature remains. Fuller’s narrative voice, which switches between that of the child and the adult, is central to the analysis. My discussion shows that the child’s voice performs Rhodesian discourse to a large extent, but that the adult narrator merely portrays such discourse and ideology.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)
JournalScrutiny2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Settler discourse
  • Autobiography
  • Zimbabwean literature
  • Alexandra Fuller

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