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Cold War Africa and China: The Afro-Asian Writers' Bureau and the Rise of Postcolonial Literature


This dissertation argues for an alternative history of postcolonial literature anchored in the cultural exchanges of Africa and Asia. The project claims a strong, but tenuous Africa-China imaginary emerged during 1960s decolonization through the Afro-Asian Writers' Bureau founded in 1957. Analysis of their anthologies of world literature reveals an early crystallization of a postcolonial aesthetic rooted in Afro-Asian expressions of solidarity. As a result, the Bureau's Sino-Soviet split in 1966 would magnify Africa as a contested ground of "literary" realpolitik. This dissertation locates the emergence of postcolonial literature outside of a colony's relationship to a colonial metropole. Also, it reexamines Cold War literary networks from a postcolonial perspective. African engagement with Chinese literary theory thereby yields a provocative South-to-South vector of decolonization's aesthetic history.

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