Literacies of the Flesh in the Future Tense: Chris Abani's Becoming Abigail

Chris Abani’s 2006 novella Becoming Abigail depicts the coming-of-age of a young woman whose migration from Lagos to London is orchestrated, unbeknownst to her, by a sex-trafficking network. In centering Abigail’s embodied, affective, and psychic being against a backdrop of traumas, Abani renders palpable the narrative texture of the black and African girls whose lives are rendered disposable by nation-states that fail to recognize their humanity. The protagonist’s embodied practices of remembrance and quiet refusal, this article argues, point toward a literacy of the flesh in the future tense enabled by practices of survival that do not rely on notions of agency, action, and personhood as property. In its engagement with current black feminist scholarship that revisits Hortense Spiller’s concept of the flesh, Sylvia Wynter’s genres of human, and questions of resistance, this article furthers an international dialogue between African literature and thought and global black studies.



Work Title Literacies of the Flesh in the Future Tense: Chris Abani's Becoming Abigail
Open Access
  1. Abigail Celis
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International
Publication Date June 1, 2021
Deposited July 15, 2021




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