studies in travel writing

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Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe, In Search of African Diasporas: Testimonies and Encounters (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2012).

This is an ambitious and brilliant book by one of Africaís leading diaspora intellectuals. A combination of a researcherís field notes, a travelogue and personal memoir, it is unusual in African writing. It is the first book by an African scholar to take us on such an amazing analytical and narrative journey in search of African diasporas around the world from Latin America to the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. It is filled with analytical insights, captivating stories, and intriguing observations on the complex histories and experiences of African diasporas, their triumphs and tragedies, perils and possibilities, and their enduring struggles for belonging, for their humanity. Its inimitable passions are leavened by engaging humor, its scholarly analyses by a novelistís eye for local context and color.

The author seeks to address the perplexing question of what it means to be a person of African descent living outside of the African continent. He offers the reader fascinating and richly textured portraits and surveys of the diversity of diasporic lives as well as the abiding connections of the diaspora condition. What makes this book particularly gripping are the multilayered narratives, the braided stories and explorations of African diasporic lives across many contexts and places as well as the authorís own life during the period of his travels from 2006 to 2009. Also skillfully interwoven are the authorís daily encounters and observations, information and reflections from interviewees from all walks of life, and the larger structural contexts of diaspora struggles for enfranchisement and empowerment.

For all the gruesome exclusions, vulnerabilities, and marginalities African diasporas have suffered in their various abodes, this is a remarkable tale of diasporic agency, a celebration of their lasting contributions to the construction of the modern world in all its manifestations.

This book is part of the African World Series, edited by Toyin Falola, Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor in History, University of Texas at Austin.

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