A diegetic analysis of the scholarly works of six ATWS/ASRF women: Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, Theodora Ayot, Doyin Coker-Kolo, Rita Kiki Edozie, Mueni Wa Muiu, and Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome.

Author:Bangura, Abdul Karim
Position:THIRD WORLD PROBLEMS AND ISSUES IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE - Association of Third World Studies and African Studies and Research Forum - Essay


In this essay, I employ the diegetic method to examine the scholarly works of six Association of Third World Studies (ATWS) and African Studies and Research Forum (ASRF) female professionals--namely, Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, Theodora Ayot, Doyin Coker-Kolo, Rita Kiki Edozie, Mueni wa Muiu, and Mojubaolu O1ufunke Okome. The major purpose of the paper is to highlight the academic work of some of our leading female scholars. This is in line with the tradition of the ATWS and the ASRF--the latter being an affiliate organization of the former--that pride themselves in promoting total equality between the sexes and other social groups in all of their activities. These scholars' academic merit is demonstrated by examining their analytical styles and subjectivity and objectivity contestations. They are the first six female professionals of the ATWS/ASRF selected for review as part of a larger book project because of their substantive research activities; early tenure and promotion; and holding key positions in the ASRF, ATWS and/or other major academic organizations.

In essence, the essay deviates from the vexing and persistent practice of marginalizing female scholars. For example, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Susumu Tonegawa, a Nobel laureate and director of the Picower Center for Learning and Memory, told Alia Karpova that he would not interact or collaborate with her, or serve as her mentor, if she accepted a job at MIT, and that members of his research group would refuse to work with her as well. Karpova, touted as one of the most promising young neuroscientists, had to turn down the job. The controversy became especially sensitive at MIT, which has been a focal point for accusations of bias against female scientists for over a decade. Seven years before the Karpova incident, the institute acknowledged in a report that it had discriminated against women, setting in motion a new movement for academic women. In a follow-up report three years later, female academics at MIT stated that they still felt marginalized. (1)

In the following sections, I begin with a discussion of the methodology that guides the essay. This is followed by an analysis of the works of each of the selected intellectuals. After that, a synthesis of the findings is presented. In the end, a conclusion is drawn based on the findings.


The diegetic method, as I have discussed elsewhere following the work of Cesare Segre, (2) is a literary analytical, or narrativity, approach conceptualized as a mediated linguistic realization, whose scope it is to communicate a series of events to one or more interlocutors and to do so in such a manner that the interlocutors will participate in this knowledge, and so widen their own pragmatic context. A narrative content and its realization, then, may or may not be diegetic, which may be verbal but also nonverbal, or not merely verbal. Thus, a diegetic narrative is an invariant which can be represented by many variables--hence, possible transpositions from one type of realization to another. It is an autonomous referent, because, however it is uttered or written, an action will have an unequivocal nature of its own; it is an articulated referent because, among the different actions of a narrative, there exist logical or at least chronological relations and these can be enucleated without taking into account the mode of utterance or writing. The concrete character of the referent, or pseudo-referent should the narration be fictitious, is much more fluid, or it no longer exists when an analyst deals with lyrical, psychological, reflective, and other such contents.

In everyday narration, there exists a possibility of integration from the pragmatic context of data known to the interlocutor. Consequently, the action may also be narrated in an incomplete or disjointed way. It is less important to stress the well-known linguistic idea that everyday narration, as distinct from literary narration, may also have recourse to nonverbal means--gestures, etc.

Apart from the interest of such research for the description and classification of the texts of myth, folklore, and literature, it should be added that analysis of narration immediately showed itself to be a particularly different instrument for the study of discourse. In fact, the signal success in the investigation of discourse meanings is obtained when, as is the case with narration, these meanings or signifiers correspond to actions easily isolated, which are joined together by links of succession or, even better, of causality.

Faced with an action narrated in verbal form or in another mode, both the critic and the linguist cannot avoid repeating the operation which any ordinary listener or reader will carry out. They will mentally reformulate and summarize the content of the narrative discourse. Meta-narrative reformulations are the result, in substance phrases. Even in the case of nonverbal narrations, an observer's reformulations will reduce them to discourse. An attempt may be made to limit to the utmost the arbitrary nature of such paraphrases, but it is impossible to find any more objective way of determining actions. The inevitability of the paraphrase depends on an objective fact: an action cannot be formulated conceptually otherwise than with sentences. It ought to be stated that between the nuclear sentence and the corresponding section of the discourse, no equivalence exists: the nuclear sentence is the content of the discourse section reduced exclusively to what may be considered as action.

Therefore, fundamental here are the concepts of syntagm (the connections between actions along the discoursive or temporal chain) and of paradigm (the semantic correspondence of actions located at different points along the same chain). For syntagm, the most elaborated model, the delineated moments which, in whole or in part, but always in the same order, are to be met within the totality of the tales. Verbal definition of these moments, which are identical with narrative functions, makes it possible to relate to their corresponding categories a whole variety of actions carried out by the characters in the tales.

In a closed model, one can already observe the presence of post hoc, ergo propter hoc--'after this therefore because of this'--sequences (that is, the fallacy of arguing from temporal sequence to a causal relation). In fact, the coherence of a narration hinges not only on the continuity of its actant or actants but also on the consequentiality of its actions (although due weight may be attributed to causal undertakings or events, which will thus occur post hoc but not propter hoc). Hence, the dual presence of each of the following pairs: interdiction and its violation; the attempt to find out something and the transmission of information; deception or fraud by the villain and the hero's reaction to it; fight and victory; marking and recognition. What is obvious here is that the second term of each pair is a corollary of the first.

The range of choices a narrator can make is therefore an extremely wide one. Once she has a subject, a narrator has first and foremost to make a decision on what means she will employ to communicate it: an oral tale, a film, a television play, a comic, a novel, a stage play, etc. Even if the choice for any given narrator is not really an open one, in abstract these and other possibilities do exist, and it is possible to "decant" from one medium to another, even after the communication has been effected. It is unnecessary to insist on the fact that such "decanting" will bring to light, when competencies are well matched, the peculiar character of the different media.

Thus, four types of narration can be delineated, and they depend on the position of the narrator. The first is extradiegetic-heterodiegetic, where the narrator is absent from the tale she narrates. The second is extradiegetic-homodiegetic, where a narrator directly recounts her own tale. The third is intradiegetic-heterodiegetic, where a narrator once removed, thus already a character of a tale, tells stories from which she is absent. The fourth is intradiegetic-homodiegetic, where a narrator once removed tells her own story.


A relatively quicker way to find out whether or not a scholar's works are treated seriously in academia is to do an Internet search with the person's name via GoogleScholar.com and amazon.com, as these two sources will reveal how many of the person's works have been cited and by whom. Approximately 300 of the works of the six ASRF female scholars studied in this essay have been cited numerously by various authors. The list of who is who among intellectuals who have cited these six scholars' works includes Ali A. Mazrui, Toyin Falola, Matthew M. Heaton, Elias K. Bongmba, Oyeronke Oyewumi, Pita O. Agbese, E. Ike Udogu, Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh, Lawrence Ogechukwu Abokoh, Chris Ogbonda, Robert I. Rotherg, Richard L. Sklar, Johnson W. Makoba, E. W. Nafziger, Leslie A. Fadiga-Stewart, V. Kvaca, Julius O. Ihonvbere, C. Koutra, Tangie Nsoh Fonchingong, Cynthia Sims, Terrence Scott and Joseph Calvin Gagnon, Godwin Murunga and Shadrack Wanjala Nasong'o, E. S. Etiono Odhiambo, Christie Okali, Joshia Osamba, and Essi Sutherland-Addy.

In the following subsections, I analyze a sample of each of the six scholars' works using, as stated earlier, the diegetic approach, beginning with a very brief background of the scholar. Due to space constraints, however, only three among the major works of each scholar are analyzed. Co-authored books are not included in the selection, mainly because of the greater propensity for co-author or contributor influences in striving to achieve textual coherence and cohesion.

It should also be noted that with a larger number of works for each of these scholars, it will be possible to do a comparative analysis of their analyses--this will be akin to a...

To continue reading