Rearticulating Women’s Silence in Paulina Chiziane’s Niketche and in Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes

  • Marie Claire de Mattia Universidade de Coimbra
Keywords: silence, Female subalternity, resistance, literature of black African women


This essay begins with a comparison of Gayatri Spivak’s Can the Subaltern Speak? (1988) and Eni Puccinelli Orlandi’s As formas do silêncio (2007). Through a contrastive analysis of these works, I aim to rephrase our critical understanding of the meaning and significance of “silence.” From a cumbersomely imposed entity with fixed limits, and a means to dominate and oppress, I suggest that silence is a powerful and illusive passive instrument of microresistance. Subsequently, I locate the operation of these theoretical processes in two works of contemporary African female-authored fiction, Niketche: Uma história de poligamia (2002), by Paulina Chiziane, and Changes: A Love Story (1991), by Ama Ata Aidoo. Ultimately, I draw attention to how these works unpack and
enhance our understanding of the representation of silence, which could be read as an effective tool toward contesting annihilation, assimilation, and appropriation.