Life after Necropolitics: Spirit-Writing, Creaturely Mimesis and Auto-Ancestralisation in Chris Abani’s Song for Night
AbstractIf the common goal of both historical and animist materialism, namely the re-enchantment of the world, is to be realised, then the African novel must reach beyond the secular task of representation and reconstitute itself as transformative ritual, drawing on the remnants of indigenous tradition in order to perform itself as spirit-writing. Spirit-writing enables a process of auto-ancestralisation to take place despite the necropolitical drive to abolish ancestral ties. Chris Abani’s Song for Night is an exemplary performance of auto-ancestralisation in that its spirit-narrator must reinvent the forgotten song of his Ibo grandfather in order to re-join the world of the ancestors. In so far as his lyrical song for night transposes the improvised sign-language of his platoon of muted mine-sweepers, the narrative also partakes in their creative resistance to the instrumentalisation of human life. However, this creativity does not constitute a recovery of the human so much as a spirited affirmation of cross-species similarity, or what I term creaturely mimesis.
Durrant, SR (2017) Life after Necropolitics: Spirit-Writing, Creaturely Mimesis and Auto-Ancestralisation in Chris Abani’s Song for Night. Research in African Literatures, 48 (3). ISSN 0034-5210 (In Press)