Journeys of Becoming: Hair, the Blogosphere and Theopoetics in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.10.08

Keywords:

Adichie, theopoetics, materiality, hair, blog-writing

Abstract

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah provides provocative reflections on intertextuality and becoming by exploring the potentially transformative power of “blog-writing.” Through a combined reading of Mayra Rivera’s Poetics of the Flesh and Adichie’s Americanah, this article details intersections between the virtual and the material; writing in the (imagined “other-wordly”) blogosphere about the organic matter of hair. The narrator of the novel, Ifemelu, establishes a blog after she shares her story to decide to stop using relaxants and to allow her hair to be natural, via an online chat-room; she refuses to go through ritual performances in order to succeed as a migrant in America. In this article I argue that Adichie’s detailing of Ifemelu’s relationship with her hair explores the way in which creative practice, or poetics, is intimately connected to the journey of our flesh; social history is marked on our bodies. The blog becomes a confessional which details the demeaning effect that social constructions of race have had on her body. But the blog ultimately becomes self-destructive. It is only when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria that she embodies the transformative and cathartic power of contemporary modes of story-telling, and where she is finally able to “spin herself into being.”

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Author Biography

Fiona Darroch, University of Stirling

Fiona Darroch is Book Reviews Editor for Literature and Theology: An International Journal of Religion, Theory and Culture (Oxford University Press). She is a lecturer in Religion at the University of Stirling, Scotland, and author of articles such as “‘Ou libéré?’ Vodou and Haiti: Speaking the Language of Resistance, Remembrance and Freedom in the Writing of Edwidge Danticat” in Translating Wor(l)ds: Christianity across Cultural Boundaries (Collectanea Instituti Anthropos. Ed. Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz. Baden-Baden: Academia/Nomos, 2019); and “Re-imagining the Sacred in Caribbean Literature” in Literature and Theology: New Interdisciplinary Spaces edited by Heather Walton (London: Ashgate, 2011); and the monograph Memory and Myth: Postcolonial Religion in Contemporary Guyanese Fiction and Poetry (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009).

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Published

2020-11-24

How to Cite

Darroch, F. (2020). Journeys of Becoming: Hair, the Blogosphere and Theopoetics in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (10), 135-150. https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.10.08