Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Adam Rzepka

Committee Member

Jeff Gonzalez

Committee Member

Jeff Miller


Achille Mbembe’s theory from On the Postcolony uses structuralism to define Africa in terms of its differences: that is, what the continent lacks, or what is absent when compared to Europe. Mbembe, however, introduces a new definition of Africa to refute Western culture’s dependence on social constructs of race that enforce Eurocentric power to marginalize individuals as “other.” An analysis of stereotypes in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple pairs well with Mbembe’s theories, because Walker’s character portrayals in the sections devoted to Africa serve to complicate these constructs of race, and introduce fetishism, objectification, and postcolonialism as well. Instead of accepting Africa’s “sense of self,” with its own customs, traditions and identities, Walker introduces British and African American missionaries who seek to reinvent the Olinka tribe with Western clothing, religion, and traditions. The consequences then result in forfeiting a long-term culture in favor of Western capitalistic ventures. Mbembe laments Africa’s undervalued identity, so he offers examples of its distinctive characteristics that intersect boldly with Walker’s traditional and outdated stereotypes. Mbembe’s theories contradict Walker’s depiction of Africa in an attempt to finally allow Africa to develop an authentic representation of itself in the global environment.

File Format