2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

Class, Gender, and Diaspora: The Role of Status and Flexibility in Buchi Emecheta's Second-Class Citizen
Madison C. March
Dr. Bob Mielke, Faculty Mentor

This paper applies contemporary feminist theory to Buchi Emecheta's novel Second-Class Citizen (1974), which portrays the immigration of the protagonist Adah and her husband Francis from Lagos, Nigeria to London, England. The book reveals the act of diaspora to be a gendered experience: Francis, the inflexible male character, is unable to successfully acclimate to England, while Adah, the flexible female, adapts with relative ease. While the novel's males are inhibited by their fixation on class status as a marker of self-worth, Emecheta's protagonist is able to move beyond the constrictions of class to create a successful space for herself in the new culture. By juxtaposing Second-Class Citizen with contemporary Western and third world feminist theory, this paper argues that the novel rejects both labels and instead exemplifies Emecheta's own unique feminist ideology, a "feminism with a small 'f'" which is firmly grounded in her experience as a Nigerian Igbo woman.

Keywords: feminism, literature, Buchi Emecheta, Nigeria, diaspora, gender, postcolonial, womanism

Women's and Gender Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 4-5
Location: VH 1324
Time: 9:00

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