The Negotiation of Writing in a Plurilingual Country: An Ethnography of the Malian Literary Scene
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In the West African country of Mali, fourteen languages are recognized by the constitution as official. Of these, one is French, the language of the former colonial power, and the other thirteen are indigenous African languages. These languages have traditionally been used for oral communication and storytelling, but as the technology of writing has been introduced, the languages have been codified and used by some writers in creative writing. This thesis explores the reasons writers in this plurilingual environment select the language in which they write. It provides a portrait of how writers perceive their role in the traditionally oral culture of Mali. Through an examination of connected institutions such as education and development, my work exposes the different forces that shape the choices made by these writers.