University of Melbourne / Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV)
Canonical trauma theory has been employed to examine the literary inscription of trauma since its emergence in the 1990s. However, recent work in postcolonial trauma studies indicates that it is inadequate for responding to readings of trauma in non-Western postcolonial writing for it is based on a Euro-American-centric corpus and methodology. In this article, I propose to examine the extent to which both classical interpretations and recent postcolonial developments in trauma theory can account for the literary inscription of trauma in the work of a contemporary, Francophone Sub-Saharan author, Léonora Miano. I will consider Miano’s representation of historical Trans-Atlantic slave trade trauma and that relating to continuing (post)colonial oppression in her 2006 novel Contours du jour qui vient. I demonstrate that, although classical trauma theory does find echoes in this text, it cannot alone adequately account for Miano’s portrayal of Sub-Saharan trauma which is greatly enriched through a postcolonial perspective.
Keywords: (post)colonial trauma, memory, history, Sub-Saharan Africa, Francophone literature, Léonora Miano