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Research in African Literatures and African Studies in America: A Conversation with Bernth Lindfors

Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah


In their “Acknowledgements” in a recent book they edited in honor of Bernth Lindfors, Barbara Harlow and Toyin Falola identify what, in their opinion, “characterize the enormous body of Lindfors’s own oeuvre” (ix), describing Lindfors variously as: “Reader and writer, organizer and mobilizer, initiator and instigator, colleague, conferee and collaborator, intercontinental traveler, scholar and emissary, . . . [he] has contributed importantly—at times well-nigh single-handedly—to placing Africa and its literature on the curricular map of the Euro-American academy” (ix). In a “Foreword,” Stephen Arnold also describes Lindfors, “vintage Lindfors— controversial, provocative, historical, documentary, seminal, and often finding fun while always maintaining the highest standards of literary scholarship” (Arnold vi). None of these words by Harlow and Falola and by Arnold exaggerate what Lindfors has been for African literature! Several controversies have followed his positions or actions at different times, from accusations that greeted his acquisition of Tutuola’s manuscripts, some of his criticisms of Wole Soyinka or even Cyprian Ekwensi, to the many blame games about the amount of space RAL gave to African women writers or criticism of African women writing when he was editor, etc.

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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