Traitorousness, invisibility and Animism: an ecocritical reading of Nnedi Okorafor's West African novels for children

Alice Curry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The porous boundaries between the earthly and spiritual in many traditional cultures have prompted Cameroonian writer Jacques Fame Ndongo to suggest the appropriateness of an African 'cosmocriticism' in place of the more western 'ecocriticism'. Godfrey B. Tangwa similarly proffers the term 'eco-bio-communitarianism' to describe a traditionally African mode of beingin- the-world in which 'human beings tend to be more cosmically humble and therefore not only more respectful of other people but also more cautious in their attitude to plants, animals, and inanimate things, and to the various invisible forces of the world'. The foundational importance of these 'invisible forces' to much West African writing destabilises western understandings of human subjectivity by calling attention to the artificiality of the stable dichotomies between self and other, human and nonhuman on which successive instantiations of Enlightenment humanism have been built. Using Val Plumwood's ecofeminist notion of 'traitorousness' to explore the subversive potential of US-Nigerian author Nnedi Okorafor's 'organic fantasy', I argue that this type of conceptual dismantling has significant implications for ecocriticism, as it is practised in both postcolonial and western contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Research in Children's Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Animism
  • Ecocriticism
  • Hybridity
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Organic fantasy
  • Traitorousness
  • West African fiction


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