Investigates the ways in which postcolonial African fiction deals with or, in some cases, becomes the source of memory friction

Table of contents

Introduction:The Past is Full of Ruptures
0.1 Memories of Conflict and Conflicts of Memory in Post-Colonial Africa
0.2 Postcolonial Memory Studies
0.3 Frictions of Memory
0.4 Fiction of Memory in Post-Conflict Africa
0.5 Outline of the Book
Chapter 1: The Past is a Contested Territory: Half of a Yellow Sun as a Postmemory Fiction
1.1 The Shadow of Biafra
1.2. Postmemory
1.3 Chimamanda Adichie as a Vicarious Witness
1.4 Aesthetics of Postmemory in Half of Yellow Sun
1.5 Remembering Back and Writing Back: The Nexus Between Postmemory and Postcolonialism in Half of a Yellow Sun
1.6 Remediation of Memory
1.7 Postmemory and the Possibility of Justice for Biafra
1.8 Concatenated Memories, Ancestral Memories
Chapter 2: The Past Continues in Silence: Memory, Complicity and the Post-Conflict Timescapes in The Memory of Love
2.1 Reading Silence
2.2 A Sense of Something Unspoken: The Memory of Love as Textual Silence
2.2 Silence of Trauma
2.3 Silence of Oppression
2.4 A Culture of Silence
2.5 Silent and Silenced Memories
2.6 Silence of Complicity
2.7 The Post-Conflict Timescapes in The Memory of Love
Chapter 3: The Past Continues in Another Country: African Transnational Memory in a Migratory Setting
3.1 Immigrant Melancholia
3.2 Memory, Translocalities and Alternative Practices of Belonging in Children of the Revolution
3.3 In Search of an African Transnational Memory
Chapter 4: The Past Continues through Subject Positions: Memory, Subjectivity and Secondary Witnessing in The Shadow of Imana
4.1 African Transnational Memory and the Rwandan Genocide
4.2 Sites and Sutures of Memory: Veronique Tadjo’s Affective Encounters
4.3 Memory and Positionality: Intricacies of Secondary Witnessing in The Shadow of Imana
Chapter 5: The Past Continues in the Future


In Continuous Pasts, author Sakiru Adebayo claims that the post-conflict fiction of memory in Africa depicts the intricate ways in which the past is etched on bodies and topographies, resonant in silences and memorials, and continuous even in experiences as well as structures of migration. Adebayo argues that the post-conflict fiction of memory in Africa invites critical deliberations on the continuity of the past within the realm of positionality and the domain of subjectivity—that is to say, the past is not merely present; instead, it survives, lives on, and is mediated through the subject positions of victims, perpetrators, as well as secondary and transgenerational witnesses. The book also argues that post-conflict fiction of memory in Africa shows the unfinished business of the past produces fragile regimes of peace and asynchronous temporalities that challenge progressive historicism. It contends that, in most cases in Africa, the post-conflict present is beset with a tight political economy wherein the scramble for survival trumps the ability to imagine a just future among survivors—and that it is precisely this despairing disposition toward the future that some writers of post-conflict fiction attempt to confront in their works. On the whole, Continuous Pasts shows how post-conflict fictions of memory in Africa recalibrate discourses of futurity, solidarity, responsibility, justice, survival, and reconciliation. It also contends that post-conflict fictions of memory in Africa provide the tools for imagining and theorizing a collective African memory. Each text analyzed in the book provides, in very interesting ways, an imaginative possibility and template for how post-independence African countries can ‘remember together’ using what the author describes as an African transnational memory framework.

Sakiru Adebayo is Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of British Columbia.

Winner: 2022 Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism

- Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism

Continuous Pasts offers a much-needed Africa-centered contribution to memory and trauma studies from a literary perspective, and Adebayo is just the scholar to make such a contribution. As the book reveals, he has a near encyclopedic knowledge of recent approaches to trauma and memory as well as a broad knowledge of African literature, history, culture, and criticism. This is the book we’ve been waiting for!”
—Michael Rothberg, author of The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators

- Michael Rothberg

"Drawing insights from memory studies, postcolonial studies, and African literature, the book examines how the past is constructed, confronted, contested, and circulated, and it succeeds not only in unsettling the marginality of postcolonial African memory discourses in memory studies, but in contributing to the ongoing quest for decolonized memory studies."

- Journal of the African Literature Association, Chijioke K. Onah

"Continuous Pasts constitutes a clear and compelling link between the fields of memory studies and African studies. It also provides a valuable alternative to both national frameworks that confine memories within artificially construed spaces and global articulations of memory that lost sight of regional specificities."

- Research in African Literatures