Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type



Critical review of the existing literature on African women writers clearly shows that nowhere is the question of writing as a cultural negotiation posed, discussed or much less addressed. This is a lacuna that this dissertation addresses for the first time by proposing a re-reading of the selected works of Ama Ata Aidoo, Mariama Bâ and Marie NDiaye through the new prism of writing as part of cultural negotiation. In doing so, the dissertation goes beyond the paradigm of binary oppositions that undergirds the critical literature on writing by Sub-Saharan women in favor of the innovative concept of negotiation. In addressing women’s issues such as marriage and polygamy, motherhood and witchcraft, this study makes the powerful case that Mariama Bâ, Ama Ata Aidoo and Marie NDiaye have negotiated a space of creativity for themselves through writing, hitherto the preserve of men, and from which they pose, discuss and address through negotiation, those cultural issues affecting them. Chapter One, with brief biographical sketches of the writers and a summary of their texts, deals with the theoretical framework for the study by providing the critical overview of Sub-Saharan women writers and in-depth analyses of the concepts of writing, negotiation and culture in order to explain how these women writers are able to negotiate their respective cultures in their writing. In Chapter Two, hybridity and its perils are discussed specifically in relation to the colonizer/colonized binary model. Through this binary, displacement of authority is engendered by means of a series of mimetic identifications with the colonizer by the colonized in an ambivalent hybridized cultural space. We discuss interracial and inter-caste polygamy and their role in the victimization of women in Chapter Three. Chapter Four questions the notion that motherhood is the equivalent of men’s reproductive labor and a source of oppression suggests that empowerment can be derived from surrogacy and freedom of choice. Chapter Five explores modern day beliefs in witchcraft and its cultural impact on women. From the feminist theoretical perspective, the study suggests that witchcraft, if reclaimed by women, is a powerful negotiating tool.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Adelaide Russo