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Daniel Orrells, Gurminder K. Bhambra, and Tessa Roynon

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199595006

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199595006.001.0001

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Mythopoeia in the Struggle against Slavery, Racism, and Exclusive Afrocentrism

Mythopoeia in the Struggle against Slavery, Racism, and Exclusive Afrocentrism

(p.343) 20 Mythopoeia in the Struggle against Slavery, Racism, and Exclusive Afrocentrism
African Athena

Edith Hall

Justine McConnell

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses the springboard of Bernal's historicising interpretation of myth, in order to illuminate the more allusive models of myth instantiated in recent fiction and poetry, taking as primary case‐study Achille's nekuia in Walcott's Omeros. Wole Soyinka and Orlando Patterson use models that are not historical, genealogical nor aetiological, but rather, analogical. Other authors have drawn on a model that is aetiological in that it sees ancient Greek myths as doing important ideological work in creating psychological precedent for colonisation and slavery. This use of myth ‘resists’ the dominant reading to imagine its implications from the perspective of the hero's victims. The second half of the paper is a reading of Walcott's nekuian reverse Middle Passage discussing his fusion of analogical, resistant and ‘equivalent’ models of Greek myth, arguing that the crucial choice was to read Achille's imaginary visit to Africa as a katabasis rather than a nostos.

Keywords:   myth, slavery, colonisation, katabasis, resistant model, analogical model, Walcott

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