2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

“Not a Vacuum”: A Postcolonial Analysis of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
Mike T. Westphal
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Chinua Achebe's seminal postcolonial novel Things Fall Apart (1959), set at the turn of the twentieth century, gives readers insight into Igbo culture and history, depicting an organic culture centered around a set of religious beliefs, and an effective economic and judicial system based on long-held traditions and social norms. As the novel progresses, the British replace native institutions with their own colonial establishment, aided by weaknesses inherent in the Igbo system of beliefs, eventually leading to the destruction of Igbo culture. The novel concludes with the District Commissioner effectively writing the Igbo’s history, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger, through a European perspective that further erases the tribe’s culture. My paper, then, will examine the ways in which Things Fall Apart 's depiction of a long-standing culture being irrevocably altered in such a short span of time reinforces Achebe's central message that "Africa was not a vacuum before the coming of Europe...that culture was not brought to Africa by the white world."

Keywords: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, postcolonial, Africa, Nigeria, Igbo, culture, history

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 6-1
Location: OP 2115
Time: 8:15 am

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