Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Pan-African Studies

Degree Program

Pan-African Studies, PhD

Committee Chair

Logan, Mawuena Kossi

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Rajack-Talley, Theresa

Committee Member

Rajack-Talley, Theresa

Committee Member

Fleming, Tyler

Committee Member

Chandler, Karen

Committee Member

Willey, Ann Elizabeth

Author's Keywords

Postcolonial literature; trauma; healing; space; afro-futurism; slave narrative


This dissertation examines the space or spaces of blackness and the black body in the United States. This nation was shaped by the institution of slavery, and its greatest legacy is the trauma that still resonates in social structures and spaces complicating the lived experiences of many. The various responses to these traumas are documented in literary form by authors who serve as cultural witnesses. The narratives featured in this research project, collectively and individually, offer a voice to the traumatic plight of individuals in the U.S. who struggle to contemplate and rectify the traumas of this nation’s past. This research demonstrates the relationship between lived space and behavior and also how space can reinforce power and hegemony. This particular form of analysis can offer new perspectives to the field of postcolonial theory and criticism. From slave narratives to Afro-futuristic literature, this project, therefore, endeavors to examine the motif of space in these various texts as an investigation of the postcolonial dilemmas of race as a social construction, racialization, inequality, and oppression. Additionally, this research aims to emphasize the power of literature to effect change and healing. Chris Tiffin and Alan Lawson adumbrate this power of literature when they argue that “[i]mperial relations may have been established initially by guns, guile and disease, but they were maintained in their interpellative phase largely by textuality…” (3). The relationship between space and postcolonial theory is not new, but the changing global landscape creates new opportunities to expand this platform. In conclusion, this project considers the profound possibilities for spatial and postcolonial theory to stimulate agency and greater cultural awareness in other societies and other global spaces.