Negotiating social identities in Makumbi’s Kintu, Isegawa’s Abyssinian Chronicles and Ocen’s The Alien Woman
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This dissertation is premised on the understanding that identity is malleable, changeable and, hence, negotiable. The core interest of the study was to investigate the literary modes of representing social identity and the various means of negotiating, reconfiguring and constructing social space and social identity in Ugandan society plus how these means, modes and processes of negotiation impact the contemporary perceptions of nationhood, community and belonging. To best explore the negotiability of social identity in the ambits of literary representation, the research focuses on three Ugandan novels: Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Kintu, Moses Isegawa’s Abyssinian Chronicles and Laury Lawrence Ocen’s The Alien Woman. Using textual analysis as the main method of inquiry, these novels are made to interact with other secondary texts, and the Ugandan context in general, to make sense of the representation of social identity. The postcolonial theory provides the conceptual lenses through which the subject of identity is viewed in this study. What stands out from the findings is that social identity is expressed, constructed and performed in various subtle ways that are reflected in the behaviour and attitudes of the characters in the selected novels. Ugandan novelists use fiction as a site that effectively represents the attempts, processes and techniques of constructing, configuring, conceptualising, modelling and defining social identity. The novelists themselves deploy fiction as a tool of disseminating particular narratives of social identity and their works, in and of themselves, are part of the process of, not just representing, but also participating in the negotiation of social identity.