Truman State University
Subject Listing - English
Advisor: Dr. Hena Ahmad
Thursday, Oral Session 2, Presentation 4, Owen Hall 250
DIRT AS RESISTANCE TO PATRIARCHY AND COLONIALISM IN TSITSI DANGAREMBGA'S NERVOUS CONDITIONS
In Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions the struggle of young Tambudzai's Rhodesian Shona family with colonialism is illustrated through the use of dirt as a symbol for a natural and balanced lifestyle. Dirt is also used to confront patriarchy, both foreign and native, as traditional Shona female roles encourage closeness with the land through dirty, hard work. Nervous Conditions details the transition between traditional Shona culture, in which power is earned through a fruitful and healthy connection with the earth, and English colonialism, which offers a power that suppresses many natural aspects of living. Tambudzai recalls her brother Nhamo's adaptation to English culture through the mission school which is run by her highly-glorified Anglophile uncle, leaving Nhamo increasingly disgusted with his home. After Nhamo dies due to exposure to English disease, Tambudzai is allowed to attend the mission school and is confronted with the false appearance of "antiseptic sterility" offered by the English education. Exacerbating the oppression wrought by English colonial influence are the patriarchal restrictions inherent in both traditional Shona culture and Western culture, further confining the four women of the novel whose sense of independence is inextricably linked to Mother Nature. Through her experiences, both positive and negative, with Western education and the interactions with her downtrodden mother and aunt Maiguru, her empowered aunt Lucia, and her rebellious yet unfortunate cousin Nyasha, Tambudzai is able to expand her consciousness of both her female and native conditions.
Advisor: Dr. Hena Ahmad, Associate Professor, English, Truman State University, Kirksville, MO