The politics of the popular: Definitions and uses of African popular fiction

Publication year
Hybrid Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies

As the title suggests, this is not solely about romance. However, reference is made to romance fairly often. Here's the abstract:

This paper is a contribution to the discourse around the politics and the polemics of ‘the popular’. It focuses on the definitions and uses of African popular fiction. The problematic in the definition of ‘African popular fiction’ starts from the difficulty in the definition of African popular culture itself which the fiction in question is supposed to reflect or influence (Barber, 1997). This paper does not take the term ‘popular’ as a received notion but as a contested notion because there is politics behind it. ‘Popular fiction’ is a term originating from outside Africa in the West while in Africa there is a problem of distinction between what is popular and what is not popular. The transpositions from Western to African popular fiction require adjustments beyond substituting black for white or beyond bringing the proletariat-bourgeois dichotomy because contexts are totally different. Popular fiction acquires new characteristics and uses when transposed to the African local and when transposed to a different local within Africa. African writers re-interpret or extend the boundaries of this genre in order to make it do new intellectual work and address questions of social and political power. This form is conscripted for new ends and is made to address emergent issues of social contradiction in Africa. It is itself an institution of social critical analysis.