Introduction -- Habari ya Contact Zone? East African Literature Revisited

April 2015
Matatu: Journal for African Culture & Society;Apr2015, Vol. 46, p1
Academic Journal
Two languages have been particularly important in shaping the literary landscape of East Africa: Swahili and English. Today, the most vibrant contact zones between literature in English and literature in Swahili are located in Kenya and Tanzania, especially in the urban centres. Since the early 2000s, in an era of struggling multi-party democracies, globalization, and the growing influence of new electronic media, both Tanzania and Kenya are witnessing far-reaching processes of social and political change that also shape the linguistic contact zones between Swahili and English in both countries. The wide-ranging contributions in this volume explore how the linguistic contact zone of Swahili and English has shaped literary production, and how literary production itself might have influenced Swahili and English as literary languages. They also scrutinize the role of 'hybrid' and/or new languages like Sheng and Engsh, and investigate how phenomena of hybridization between Swahili and English have entered the literary sphere. They testify to a spirited exchange of ideas between writers and academics and promote transdisciplinary dialogue among several academic fields - anglophone and Swahili studies, literary studies and linguistics, East African and German academic discourse, Kenyan and Tanzanian perspectives. The contributions create a 'contact zone' of their own that will generate productive impulses for transdisciplinary research and allow readers to gain new insights into trajectories of Swahili and anglophone writing in East Africa.


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