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Dr. Christine Okoth

About

I am a Research Fellow on the Leverhulme project ‘“World Literature and Commodity Frontiers: The Ecology of the ‘long’ 20th Century.” The project team is led by co-investigators Mike Niblett (Warwick) and Chris Campbell (Exeter) and also includes doctoral candidate Esthie Hugo. I’m currently working on a monograph tentatively entitled The Novel of Extraction: Migration, Integration, and the Contemporary African Novel, which argues that the migrant novels which constitute what critics have called the ‘African literary renaissance’ are preoccupied in both form and content with the broader integration of Africa into the centres of the capitalist world-system. These novels position the circulation of literature alongside the movement of people and, most importantly, natural resources. They do so to demonstrate to what extent those operational manoeuvres that facilitate the excavation of material resources – such as precious metals or fossil fuels – also direct and shape interactions with African persons and cultural products.

In order to understand these novels as extractive genres, I propose that they need to be critically read with other extractive genres from the contemporary black Atlantic. A reading that positions the work of poet Dionne Brand alongside Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing for instance demonstrates that each text is thematically concerned with how racialisation and extraction build on each other to facilitate the appropriation of African labour and resources. At the same time, an extractive logic that emerges out of historic and ongoing modes of racial subjection also shapes the ways in which these texts engage with the constraints of established literary genres.

This project builds on the research conducted for my PhD at King’s College London, which was awarded in 2018. My thesis won an Elsevier Outstanding Thesis Award and I’ve previously been awarded a fellowship at the John W. Kluge Centre at the Library of Congress. I’ve written review essays for the European Journal of American Studies, the ASAP/J blog, and the Journal of American Studies and I am currently working on an article based on a chapter of my doctoral thesis and a non-academic essay about the political logic of recycling.

Research interests

African and African American literature, Black studies, contemporary literature, narrative theory, migration, ecology, queer studies

Contact

christine.okoth@warwick.ac.uk