Thing theorist Bill Brown writes that “the thing names less an object than a particular subject-object relation.” This article examines the subject-object relation between African things and African bodies in Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's first novel, Purple Hibiscus. While the main character, Kambili, eventually learns to assimilate Western Catholicism into her Nigerian reality, her Christian fundamentalist father, Eugene, uses Catholicism to justify his self-hating destruction of African things and bodies. This article argues that both reactions are rooted in the characters' ability or inability to see African material things, including both objects and bodies, as autonomous subjects. Adichie's novel demonstrates that religious syncretism centered in an ethics of things is a viable, fruitful reaction to the colonizers' religion, and that religious practice can be healthily enacted through the medium of things and bodies.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
McQuarrie, Kylie, "Sacred Things, Sacred Bodies: The Ethics of Materiality and Female Spirituality in Purple Hibiscus" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 4409.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus, Thing Theory, New Materialism, Postcolonial Literature