Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Robert D. Aguirre


The emergence of South-South relations in politics and economics refracts strangely through the literature produced in these postcolonial regions. Two primary worldviews emerge in these texts. The first focuses on the continued presence of imperial powers in the South and their culpability in eruptions of violence. The second shifts to modes of domination emerging within South-South interactions. Salman Rushdie's canonical Midnight's Children examines the Bangladeshi genocide through a variety of literary strategies, especially hyperbole, to produce a crisis of history to indict the Cold War arms trade on equal terms with a war criminal. Similarly, Boubicar Boris Diop's novel Murambi, The Book of Bones helps contextualize the Rwandan genocide within the circuits of international attention--weapons supplies, political support and humanitarian aid--that put the lie to the world's supposed "indifference." On the contrary, Murambi's fragmented and polyvocal form evinces the multiple and contradictory investments Rwandans suffered through. East Africa is also home to a South Asian diaspora that arrived before the European powers and now advance India's exponential trade relations with Africa.

M.G Vassanji's The In-Between World of Vikram Lall caricatures one of these "Asian Shylocks" to critique the diaspora's class politics and, simultaneously, the racism and xenophobia that led to their 1969 mass deportation from Uganda by Idi Amin. Vassanji's focalizer weaponizes capital accumulation to claim that it protects against such racism, even if it confirms racist caricatures. This argument is not unlike that made by emergent economies from the postcolonial South, which have turned to neoliberal developmental policies to guarantee their independence. Despite the unsustainability of such policies, both Vassanji's novel and Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger take seriously capitalism's ability to nullify old hierarchies even while building new ones. Adiga's focalizer breaks free of his place in the caste system on the strength of capitalism's ability to profane this scared hierarchy. Such anti-caste politics challenge the category of 'radical politics' as espoused by anti-capitalists and adherents of Gandhi, who fought feverishly for the preservation of caste. Taken together, these two novels represent emergent Southern businessmen who fight local antagonisms through international capital, producing a complicated situation that helps us understand the allure of accumulation in emergent economies and its impact on South-South relationships.