Argues for an innovative and overdue posthuman reading of African postcolonial literature


Despite the central role that animals play in African writing and daily life, African literature and African thinkers remain conspicuously absent from the field of animal studies. The Postcolonial Animal: African Literature and Posthuman Ethics demonstrates the importance of African writing to animal studies by analyzing how postcolonial African writing—including folktales, religion, philosophy, and anticolonial movements—has been mobilized to call for humane treatment of nonhuman others. Mwangi illustrates how African authors grapple with the possibility of an alternative to eating meat, and how they present postcolonial animal-consuming cultures as shifting toward an embrace of cultural and political practices that avoid the use of animals and minimize animal suffering. The Postcolonial Animal analyzes texts that imagine a world where animals are not abused or used as a source of food, clothing, or labor, and that offer instruction in how we might act responsibly and how we should relate to others—both human and nonhuman—in order to ensure a world free of oppression. The result is an equitable world where even those who are utterly foreign to us are accorded respect and where we recognize the rights of all marginalized groups.

Evan Maina Mwangi is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University.

“A first of its genre, The Postcolonial Animal expands the canon of Animal Studies. From precolonial South African Ubuntu philosophy, to the oral literature from East Africa, and Francophone, Canadian, and New Zealand literature, Mwangi’s literary scope is very impressive and probably unmatched.”
—Bénédicte Boisseron, University of Michigan

The Postcolonial Animal is an innovative application of cutting-edge ideas to postcolonial texts, truly original and creative in its approach.”
—J. Roger Kurtz, Drexel University